Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Go! Go! Gadget Camera!

Had some fun with my digital camera this weekend. We went to Baltimore's Inner Harbor for the pre-Preakness celebration. There were hot air balloons and fireworks, etc. We took the kids down to see the balloons mainly and had a great time. There was a prom on one of the cruise boats, so there were a bunch of city kids in their tuxs and gowns. One thing I found strange was that many of the girls had flip-flops on. They looked new, but not like anything special, just flip-flops. But to each his/her own.

Anyway, here are a few photos from that trip. I learned some things I hadn't realized about my camera. I found that the slow flash feature works really well for exposure, but you really, really need a tripod to do it right. Plus, I also got to use the fireworks setting for what it was intended.

Here we go...

Ok, this isn't from that night, but it's cool. It's my boy playing Superman on a swing.

Ok, now on to the harbor

You will see in some photos people wearing pink bunny ears. Here's why:

It's cool in the twilight to see the balloons fire

One really cool thing they had down there was a balloon laying on its side, so you could walk into it. Big fans kept it inflated as much as it was.

And here is a little more abstract shot, but still in the balloon.

Here are a couple of shots of another balloon taken when it was getting darker. This one was fun from a photographic point of view.

Yours Truly

Then in another area a few other balloons were attempting to join in, but only one was successful because it was so windy.

Then there were the fireworks using the fireworks setting on the camera. Nice, but I wish I had the tripod.

Have fun!


Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Delayed = Denied?

What a headache-inducing day in court. After just waiting around for a couple of hours so the lawyers could get their acts together, everything is still a mess. The good thing is that the kids still live where they were living yesterday, that is, they were not returned to their numbnut and wackjob. The bad news is that both psychologists, who were to provide critical testimony, were sick with fairly serious health issues. So, because the Children's Services lawyer didn't think they had a strong enough case without them, the decided to suspend the trial.

What does that mean? Well, this isn't really a criminal trial, because the evidence is all circumstantial and the "reasonable doubt" aspect comes into play. 3 year-olds aren't exactly reliable witnesses, too unfortunately. So, this is sort of like a lower-stakes trial, with the consequence being whether these two poor excuses for humans are fit to get their children back. Those psychologists were going to say "NO FRICKIN' (that's a medical term) WAY!" There was a chance that they would get started with the proceeding yesterday and continue later, but later was going to be August, and that was just too long between hearings. So they suspended the trial.

The result? The charges are not dropped, but who knows how likely they are to have to ever go to trial on them. They may never have to face any legal repercussions because of it. But at least the kids are still safe and where they belong, though now the visitation, especially for the boy, is ridiculous. We can only hope they will face the music at some point. They (numbnut and wackjob) have to submit to mental health evaluations, too. THAT will be interesting, if we ever find out the results. This isn't some personality test, this is much more thorough, and hopefully, they'll find that they are both cracked.

Then there's the custody hearing. That may not happen for a year! That's a lot more fuzzy, but Mrs. Dave's parents are going to try to get full custody. The good thing is that the social workers and psychologists are still 100% behind us. They have all been clear and emphatic that these kids cannot go back to the situation they were in.

So, we didn't win the battle, it was more of a draw - but we will win the war.


Monday, May 08, 2006

Try to follow this!

Tomorrow the hearing regarding custody of my niece gets started. Just got a call from Mrs. Dave saying the key witness on our side of things is in the hospital and won't be available tomorrow. Blech. So, there probably won't be anything decided tomorrow, they'll just get things started.

So anyway, I was trying to explain this situation to a coworker the other day and it gets complicated. So, without getting into anything too fancy I tried to solve the problem with this graphic. I'm not sure if I nailed it, but it will at least give you an idea of what's going on. I'm sure that simply reading about it can get confusing. I know there's a lot of letters down there, but once you get started, it should make sense.

House - This is where my niece(N), her father(NF), his girlfriend and her son lived. To keep the structure parallel, Boy is B and his mother is BM. There are many other reasons to refer to her as a BM, but that's another post. So, just for clarity, NF and BM are a couple that live together, but are not married. This is where a majority of the abuse of both kids took place.

Red - Any relatives of my niece. Blue - any relatives of the boy.

Gray Circle - My niece's mother, now deceased.

US - Literally us, Mrs. Dave and me. We are the Niece's Maternal Aunt and Uncle (NMAU)

GP - A set of Grandparents, on the boy's side there is a GM and GF because they are no longer together.

Orange Ring - This is the person that B told about the abuse that was going on. BPGF reported it to Chils's services.

Green Ring - This is where the children were initially placed after they were removed from the house.

Purple Rings - Where N and B are now (with their particular sides of the family)

L - This is a person or couple that has a lawyer involved in the hearing tomorrow.

It's dizzying even when you're in the middle of it!


Thursday, May 04, 2006

Illustration (Last) Friday - Under the...

Since I don't have enough time at lunch to do anything complex, so I closed my eyes and this was the first idea I had for the theme of Under the Sea


Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Tickled Orange

Oy! This is crazy. We went to get the big sonogram yesterday. All seems to be in good shape, at least what we could see. The baby was a little stubborn and wouldn't move into a position where the sonographer could get a good look at all 4 chambers of the heart. But it was great to get a nice long look at the baby. S/he waved and showed us s/he could put its foot directly over the top of its head!

The thing was, for as sure as our OB was that the baby is a boy (see the Feelin' Blue post) the sonographer was sure it was a girl. The sono said "I wouldn't paint the walls pink, but I'm pretty sure." From different angles, she couldn't see a...well, you know...and she thought she caught a good glimpse of girl parts. I thought I saw them, too, but I'm not a sonographer, so i wasn't sure.

So, this means it's a good thing we didn't buy the paint we decided to get in anticipation of a boy! Now that we are back at square one, not knowing for sure either way, we're going neutral. We're going to paint the room orange and white somehow, still working out the details.


Monday, May 01, 2006

A Determined Dog vs. a Simple Human

I can't believe it has come to this. It's absurd, really. After years of fighting the good fight, doing everything we could think of short of this and thousands of dollars in vet bills, we realized that there is just something so deeply-rooted in my dog's psyche that he simply cannot control himself when it comes to the kitchen garbage (well, really any garbage, but kitchen most of all).

No amount of swatting his rear with a newspaper or hand has deterred him, no amount of positive reinforcement training has worked, he goes back for the rush every time. After the recent trips to the Pet Hospital (see the Weekend Grosses post), you might think he'd put 1 and 1 together and figure that his recent illness may have had something to do with his raiding the trash can. Oh, no. After we got him home and healthy again, he waited. He waited for the first opportunity when we weren't paying attention. Then, sure as the sun rises, we heard the garbage can hitting the deck. So, we give. He won. We'll never be able to break his habit.

But we have found a way to defend the garbage (and in turn, the dog's stomach). It's ludicrous. This is the kind of thing you see and think "Boy, how do you spend $XX on THAT?" What is it? Our new Simple Human 38 liter garbage can. $99 at Lowes. You read that right, $99 for a freakin' trash can. My grandchildren better be passing this can down to their grandchildren.

So far it has worked. What makes it special? The liner isn't exposed, first of all. He would pull on that sometimes to knock it over. But probably most importantly, he can't push the lid up on this to gain access to the garbage. The lid sits inside the lip of the can, so there's nothing he can get his nose under to push up. And lastly, this is heavier. It's not heavy per se, but compared to the plastic Wal-Mart standard issue model we had before, it's hefty, so the dog has a much harder time knocking it over. It's really nice as garbage cans go, but I still can't believe we spent 100 bucks on the thing. But we exercised restrain in that we could have gotten the 50 liter size for a paltry $179. If there is such a thing as loving your pet too much, I think we are definitely treading close to the line. It may be in the distance compared to other people and their pets, but I think I can see it from here.