New Year’s Eve Eve -by Sam

As I find myself looking back on the past year, I can’t help but think, “It’s been a rough one;” and the thing is, I’ve been here before. It’s starting to feel like I say this to myself at the end of a lot of years. You might be thinking, Oh, that must be a chronic illness thing. Some of you might be thinking (and some might be irritated about it), Is this about all of the famous people who have died this year? Is it about politics?

You know what, it’s not.

Well, or, maybe…maybe those things are all a little bit harder to take because everything is a little harder to take because there’s just always this underlying…well. Things have been difficult for our little family, dear friends and readers. The thing is, see, I don’t…well, this goes back to that complicated part of my last post, in which I talked about how I don’t talk about all of my business, because it’s not solely my business. So, I can’t just put it all out here for the world to see. In fact, I can’t put it all out anywhere, so, I am just kind of alone with it, and that’s very, very difficult for me. But I guess it’s normal, too.

What I mean is, you know, life’s not always a bowl of cherries. Or, well, maybe it is. But, maybe, sometimes, it’s not just a bowl. Maybe, sometimes, it’s a huge, steamy, rotten, mess of moldy cherries somebody bought a really long time ago, and no one ate, and they’ve been fucking sitting in your favourite chair for so long that they’ve started to decompose. Then, one day, you come home, sick and exhausted, and overwhelmed, unable to work, and in debt, and thinking, good god, if one more thing happens, it will put me over the edge!…and you flop down in that chair just as the phone rings to tell you that someone, somewhere needs you to come, immediately, to do something, or else the world will collapse, because, really, you’re supposed to be a superhero. And your coffee spills all over your lap, causing a chemical reaction with the rotten, moldy cherries, making their effect seemingly permanent.

So, now, everywhere you go, for the next two or three years (at least ~ jury’s out. This could be permanent) the rotten cherry funk is in your clothes, your skin, the very fiber of your being, maybe even your soul. It’s still in the chair, too, so other people in the household are going to be exposed, and there’s nothing you can do. It’s terrible stuff. It makes everyone miserable, and no one knows why, and no one knows how to talk about it, because no one even really knows what it is.  It is just so incredibly awful, so unexpected, so utterly preposterous.

And people can tell something is wrong, so they ask.

They keep asking.
“How are you?”
“Are you okay?”
“How’s the family?”

And, you know, society has these conventions, so you have to say,
“Oh, yeah, I’m fine.”
“We’re fine. “
“We’re great.”
“Everything’s good.”

But you know you’re not fooling anyone. You’re a lousy liar. You always have been, and you always will be.

To further complicate things, in the meantime, all of the normal, everyday things that happen in life keep happening around you and your moldy-ass cherries; and, you know, they’re totally normal things. Things that involve other people, but actually aren’t a huge problem. They’re little things, normal things, easy things that might be sort of challenging or, you know, require an adjustment in the way you think or do things; but they aren’t a big deal. They aren’t bad. They aren’t cause for strife or anguish or concern. It’s just that, sometimes, these people, who don’t know about your moldy cherry situation, they just don’t get that, and they think it’s all about them. Maybe we all think it’s all about us, all of the time. I guess that’s just the way humans are made.

And then, if you’re super lucky, you get not-a-diagnosis (which has nothing to do with the cherry situation, by the way, but conveniently occurs right on top of it), and they say to you, “Just keep on this band-aid*, and don’t take it off! I mean…we really don’t think you’ll bleed* profusely if you do, but DON’T TAKE IT OFF….just in case.” So you tell them, “Hey, you know, that’s…um…great and all, but…uh…I’d really like to know why I am having these symptoms.” And they tell you that what you can do, if you really want a diagnosis, is take off the band-aid, hook yourself up to a monitor for a few days that will cost roughly 8-gazillion bucks* and hope you bleed a lot during that time, so they can record it and figure out what’s happening. “Uh…” you say, “That sounds sort of…um…expensive…and dangerous…” They confirm that this is true, and so, you decide to keep your band-aid and lack of diagnosis, so, when people ask you what particular health problem you are having, you can now, officially, say, “Fuck if I know, man.”


When I say it has been a hard year, I mean it has been a hard year. I mean it on a very personal level. I can’t say I don’t want to talk about it. I want so very much to talk about it. I mean, come on, guys, I’m a talker. It’s just, well, I can’t, because you’re not my therapist. I say I am alone with my problems, but the truth is I can go talk to a therapist, and so, at least there is a place where I can unload all of this bullshit, so I don’t have to unload it all on my family and friends, and that is good, I guess.   I mean, it’s expensive, and I will always have trouble spending money, because, no matter how much money we make, and no matter how many times I am told not to feel guilty about my current inability to work outside the home, I will always be made the way I am. It’s hard for me to spend money ~ especially money I did not earn. Also, I would rather talk to friends. Or even strangers that, you know, I’m not paying to listen to me. It just feels more natural, somehow. Therapy has never felt natural to me. I guess that’s just me. Also, it’s expensive. Did I mention that it is expensive? I’m kind of a cheapskate, in case you have forgotten.


I sat down and wrote this up today for two reasons:

One) I plan this year to get back to writing, and this seemed like a logical place to start. I can start journaling. Honestly, as I sit here writing, I don’t even know if I plan to share this with the world. I am writing this in a Word doc on my MacBook Air, and it may never see the light of day. If you are reading it, we will know what decision I made. Hopefully, writing this way will lead to other writing. Who knows? Maybe I will take a class. God knows I could use a little more class. (Ha. See? I’m funny)

Two) I need to get back to being me this year. I am not able to carry the weight of knowing I have this secret funk lurking in my life; and, even ‘though I cannot share details about it, I think just sharing the fact that there was a Thing, and it was Bad, might help. Just so people know that I actually have been dealing with something. You know, because I know people must have been wondering. I feel like I haven’t been true to myself. Like I have been presenting a façade to the world, and I don’t do that well. So, I guess this is me, very vaguely, coming clean. ish. sorta.

I know that, if I share this, people will, most likely, start all kinds of wild speculations about what The Thing was. Can I ask you a huge favour? Don’t. Please. Just…stop it. If it was your business, it would have happened to you. I know that’s a tall order. But, you know, it’s also a respect for privacy thing. I’m asking. I would do the same for you.

So, I guess, in a way, this is me, getting a jump on my New Year’s Resolutions.

I’m off to a decent start, really, if you count yesterday. I talked to my mom and dad, and my cousin, Alice, very briefly, on the phone. Left a message for one of my very best friends (will call another today). Texted back and forth with my big brother (because we are just so cool and modern like that), and set up a time to call and talk (we penciled each other in ~ I’m having my people call his people ~ we are ever so Important). Talked on the phone with my big sister, while going for a walk around the neighbourhood, thereby killing two birds with one stone (my least favourite idiom ~ so gruesome!). I also cleaned the bathrooms, dust-mopped all the hard floors, did some laundry, tidied up the house, worked in the yard a little, emptied the rain barrel (just in time for today’s rain), made a nice dinner, did my physical therapy, practiced banjo, and baked the last of the froggers. Then, I took a hot bath with Epsom salts, because some of that was a lot of work, and sat down to watch an episode of Major Crimes with Shane. I even worked a little bit on a ruffle scarf while watching.

This morning, I awoke to find the rain has come to wash away the dregs of 2016, and not a second too soon. So, today, I’ll balance the checkbook, and make sure all of the bills are paid. I might even make a pot of soup. Seems appropriate for a rainy Southern California day.

Wishing you all peace at the end of this year, whether or not it has been a rough one for you; and wishing us all a bright and beautiful New Year. I think we all deserve it.


*For clarification purposes: the terms “bleeding,” “band-aid,” and “8-gazillion dollars” are as analogous in this piece as cherries. I am not bleeding. Well, not at the moment. Give me time. I am very accident-prone. I do have a chronic health problem that requires constant medication. I would rather not be specific.  It’s a thing I do.


Carrie Fisher – by Sam

I was so not ready for this that I don’t even know how to talk about it. I am currently reading The Princess Diarist. I follow Carrie Fisher on Twitter, and look forward to her “tweets,” even ‘though she writes almost exclusively in emoji, and I can barely decipher them, because, a) I’m not as hip as she, and b) I need new glasses. Once, I posted to Twitter that I had just read all of her book Wishful Drinking in one sitting, and had expected to look up and find her standing there next to me. She liked that. I swooned a little. I thought, maybe, someday, I would meet her. I mean, not that we’d hang out and be friends or anything, you know, but maybe I could have run in to her somewhere. Maybe she’d do a book signing, or I’d just happen to run in to her somewhere. I mean, I live in L.A., it could happen. Only, now, it can’t. And I know that I am not the only one feeling this way. I am one of thousands ~ no, millions. There have to be millions of us. Because I was that 19-year-old girl, too. And everything was so intense…

That’s how I began my first comment on Carrie Fisher’s death, on a post I made on Facebook, immediately after I heard the news.  Now, several days later, I thought I would revisit it here, and see if I can write a little bit more ~ if I can make a little more sense of how I am feeling, of why this one has hit me so very hard.  I mean, there’s the obvious fact that I grew up watching her.  I was a big Star Wars fan, from the time that I was a little kid.  Leia was the first “princess” character that challenged the Princess norms for me, I guess…except that I was never a princessy girl.  I was a tree-climbing, bicycle-ramp-jumping, mud-stomping, creek-wading, tagging along with her big brother and sister and all of the neighbourhood kids kind of girl.  Is that a thing?  Well, it is now; because I made it one.  Actually, I wasn’t the only one.  There was a whole pack of us.  Jumping down the slide, yelling, “Into the garbage shoot, flyboy!” at each other and fighting off the bad guys with the best of them (although, to be fair, I played Han Solo as often as I played Princess Leia…and probably Chewbacca, too…I had really long hair).  But…well, that wasn’t it. I mean, that wasn’t all of it.  There was more.  Because there was so much more to Carrie Fisher than just Princess Leia.

She was a writer.  I’ve read most of her books, and I am kicking myself for not having read all of them yet, but I guess that just gives me something to do with all of my free time.  (Free time.  Ha.  What in the hell is that?)  I never felt like I had to listen to her read her books on tape.  I heard that was a thing I could do, but, Honest-to-God, when I read anything she has written, I hear her voice in my head, just as though she is reading it to me. Is that too weird?  I think it’s kind of great.  Especially now; but I suspect, when I pick up that book I am currently reading, the Princess Diarist, it will probably make me cry, no matter what she is saying.

She was an advocate for mental health.  She was, I think, a bold example to women everywhere to not be afraid to age, to say what we want, to be loud, outspoken, and fabulous.  To say things that may take people aback.  To speak up for ourselves and for others.  To not just roll over and take it.  To hold people accountable.  She wasn’t afraid to tell people how she felt, even when how she felt was, frankly, pretty crappy; and I think that’s bold.  I think a lot of people ~ even people who do not spend their lives under the watchful eye of public scrutiny ~ worry about what image they are projecting to the world.  In response to critics of her appearance in the Force Awakens, she said, “Please stop debating about whether or not I aged well. Unfortunately it hurts all three of my feelings.”  She didn’t get angry.  She didn’t make excuses.  She didn’t tell them they were assholes ~ which, by the way, they were, and I probably told some of them that ~ she told them the truth: they hurt her feelings.  That’s a lot harder to say than, “You’re an asshole!”  Raw.  That’s how she was.  She aged the way people age, for god’s sake.  For the record, I thought she was beautiful, in every sense of the word.

Photograph: Robert Deutsch, USA Today, December 2015

She had overcome addiction.  She was living with bipolar disorder.  She was immensely talented, witty, intelligent, insightful, and incredibly strong.  She was so strong, in fact, that, when I heard what had happened on that flight from London to Los Angeles on December 23rd, I thought, “She’ll be okay.”  I mean, she had to be okay, right?  I thought she was titanium.  I thought nothing could beat her.  Like so many of the rest of us, I sent well-wishes, thoughts and prayers, and I waited for news.

And people who knew me wondered why it mattered so much to me, I’m sure.  So, maybe that’s part of the reason I am writing this.  I have seen a few of my friends trying to explain this to other people.  No, she wasn’t just “Princess Leia.”  For some of us, she was more.  Some of us connected with her on a different level than that.  If you haven’t read any of her books, I recommend you give them a shot.  Wishful Drinking is my favourite, so far, but maybe it depends where you, personally, are…or where you are coming from… I don’t know.  Is it bad or weird that I could relate?  I don’t know.  There are ways in which we are similar, and ways in which we are not.  I am, in some ways, a very private person.  I don’t tell all of my business, and I probably won’t ever do that, because I guess my attitude is that some of my business is other people’s business, too, so that’s not really my decision to make for the whole world.  Maybe she was like that, too, to a degree.  I mean, it took her 40 years to reveal that she’d had a 3-month on-set fling with a co-star.  That’s hardly what I would call running around telling everyone all your business.  But, in other ways, I am right out here in the open, all of the time.  I do kind of talk a lot (sometimes, even before I realize what I have said); and I definitely wear my heart on my sleeve.  There is seldom any mistaking how I feel.  I have always been that way.  And, yes, when I was 19, everything was so intense.  Ha.  Well.  Some things more than others.  Some of you were there.  You know that of which I speak (or you think you do, and so, for you, those were the intense things ~ see? we all did it).  I joke (but only really half-joke) that I have spent most of my life thinking of myself as perpetually 19.  So, when Carrie (can I call her “Carrie,” as if I know her?) made that statement about everything being so intense when you’re 19, it was like, “Well…so much of my life makes so much more sense now…” You know…except that I am actually 46… But, well, that’s a story for another time, and who knows if I will ever actually tell it.

I didn’t know Carrie Fisher.  But, well… maybe I did, in a sense, because, we all did.  Those of us who read her, followed her on Twitter (oh, that sounds silly, to those who don’t, I know, but those who do…well…we know), to anyone who ever listened to her.  We knew her, because she let us.  Mark Hamill, in his incredibly moving and heartfelt tribute to her, called her “OUR princess, damn it,” saying she “belonged to us all – whether she liked it not.”  I think, at least, she tolerated it very well.  She was kind to her fans, from what I saw, and supportive to those reached out to her for support. She was so much more than I have touched upon here.  She was inspiring.  She was genuine, brazen, unguarded.  She was, unabashedly herself; and, I think, on some level, we all wanted to be her, at least just a little bit.

Since her death, Harrison Ford has said, “Carrie was one-of-a-kind… brilliant, original. Funny and emotionally fearless. She lived her life, bravely…” ~ did he say those thing to her while she was alive?  I hope he did.  I mean, man, I hope someone did.  Everyone deserves to know, in life, what the people who care for them think of them.

Maybe there’s something we can all take away from this.  Maybe we can all walk away a little bit emboldened, a little bit stronger and little more willing to put ourselves ~ and I mean our true selves, the ones that might get hurt and look foolish ~ on the line.  Maybe we can allow ourselves to be vulnerable, and we can start to recognize that there is  strength in that.  Maybe we can be more real, more genuine.  Maybe we can take the risk of actually telling people how we feel, even if it’s not always pretty or easy, or socially acceptable.  Maybe we can be strong enough to admit that we are who we are, and that, sometimes, even though we aren’t 19 anymore, everything is so intense; and maybe, just maybe, we can have the courage to be as fabulously fierce as only we can be.

Rest in peace, Carrie Fisher.  I feel, selfishly, like the world didn’t get to bask in your glow nearly long enough.  I hope you know how very honoured we all are to have had you, even for just a short while.

I Ate a Sandwich – by Sam

The other day, I was out shopping, running some errands, picking up dry-cleaning, and I realized, at about 11-ish, that I hadn’t eaten more than the sample of cranberry bread and coffee at the grocery store.  So, I decided to stop and grab a sandwich at a nearby sandwich shop.  It’s funny, I think, that it was a sandwich.  By “funny” I mean, “coincidental,” or, perhaps, “unintentionally ironic,” because, you see, I am periodically told that I need to “eat a sandwich.”  Really.  This comment usually comes from rude strangers who have decided that, for some reason, it’s okay to make comments about my weight or my body because I am thin.  It’s okay, they think, to tell me that I “look anorexic,” that I need to “get a little meat on my bones,” that they “prefer women with curves” or even to ask me if I think I look attractive like that, or what example I think I am setting for my children.  Yes, these are all comments that have actually been made directly to me by strangers.  Once, a few years ago, I had a guy at a bar tell me that I was so skinny I looked like a Cancer patient, after I turned down an advance from him.  At that point, I was probably actually sick, but really?  Because, a second ago, you were interested.

What’s even weirder to me is when friends say things like this to me.  It happens.  I understand when they express concern.  They tell me I am getting too thin. They ask if I am okay.  I get that.  I mean, that’s cause for concern.  Some of them know my history.  I’m an eating disorder survivor.  So, yeah, okay, that’s reasonable.   Even if I they didn’t know that, seeing someone lose weight…well, I guess it can look unhealthy at a certain point.  They know my health, in general, is an issue.  I can see why it would worry them.  It’s still hard, when it happens, but it’s reasonable.  But that “sandwich” line?  That’s gotta go.

The problem is, right now ~ and, as it turns out, maybe for a long time ~ I have to be on a particular medication.  I have to be on it. I don’t really want to go in to detail about what’s going on, but it’s nothing terribly earth-shattering.  The end result is that I have to take medication daily, which solves the problem, and the only caveat is it affects my weight.  It has caused me to lose weight.  It increases my appetite, which is awesome, but it does make it difficult for me to gain weight, which is not great.  However, under the circumstances, I can’t worry about that.  So, I guess I should take this opportunity to assure those close to me that I am not relapsing into my eating disorder.  I’m actually doing quite well, and eating better than I have in years.  I feel pretty great.  But I am very thin.  I’m sorry.  I know that might look frightening to some of you, particularly those who have known me for a long time.  I know it might be hard to understand.  I am going to ask you to try.  To trust me.  I’m doing okay.

I will ask my friends to please avoid the “eat a sandwich” line.  Maybe you think, by saying something like that, you are keeping it light, but still addressing the issue?  It’s really just kind of mean.  That just doesn’t need to be said.  Frankly, sandwiches aren’t my favourite, food is a bit of an issue for me, my weight is always going to be a sensitive subject, and I am very self-conscious about it.  Besides which, it’s just not the kind of thing on which people need to comment.  Aren’t people taught not to make personal comments anymore?

As for the strangers who make those kinds of comments to anyone: stop.  Just stop.  Whether you are saying these things in person or online: stop it.  Why do you think you get to do this?  Who cares what you like?  Keep it to yourself.  You’ll tell me you have a right to your opinion, and sure you do, but here’s the thing: that person you’re talking about might be very thin for any number of reasons.  Maybe they actually are anorexic.  Did you ever stop to consider that?  Why is that term thrown around like an insult?  You know, its an actual illness.  It’s not a choice people make because they are trying to be cool, or they think it’s beautiful.  Maybe they’re just naturally thin, in which case, who do you think you are telling them how they should look, and that they are setting a bad example, or that they are unattractive, just because they look the way they do?  Maybe they have some kind of health problem that causes them to be very thin.  What if that person you just said looks like a Cancer patient actually IS a Cancer patient?  Aren’t you a freakin’ rockstar, now?  I mean, whatever happened to “if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all?”

This brings me back to the sandwich shop.  I was really very hungry, so I ordered my sandwich, with all the toppings I wanted, and the guy behind the counter asked me what size I wanted.  I had no idea.  I just thought they had the one size.  He explained that they had three sizes: 7″, 10.5″ and 14″.  I chose the 10.5″ sandwich.  He paused.  I waited for him to ring up my order.

“Um,” he said, finally, “Are you sure?  That’s about as big as this bag.”

He was looking down at me from behind the counter, showing me the bag, so I could fully  understand the gravity of my decision.  I was sure.  I wanted a really big sandwich.  For godssake, I can measure.  I mean, I’ve been using standard 12″ rulers since grammar school.  I buy 12″ subs all the time.  I can guess roughly how large a 10.5″ sandwich is! Now, I’ll be honest, I had a lot of errands to run, and I didn’t really plan to eat the whole thing all in one sitting, but, while he stood there judging me and my sandwich, I didn’t see any reason to explain that to him, so I just said, “Yes.  Ten and a half inches.  Please.”

“Okay,” he said, still sounding skeptical.  It kind of pissed me off.

You guys, I can’t win for losing.  I’ve got people telling me to “eat a sandwich,” and people telling me I couldn’t possibly eat THAT sandwich.  If a larger person comes in and orders the small sandwich, does he say, “Oh, I think you’re gonna need a bigger sandwich, buddy,” or does he judge them in another way, and offer them the lettuce wrap?

I guess I’ll never know.  I sat outside and unwrapped my sandwich.  A guy who looked exactly like George Lucas walked by.  I like to think it was George Lucas.  I mean, not many guys look exactly like George Lucas.  I ate 5.25″ of sandwich, then wrapped up the rest to eat during my errands.  It was a very good sandwich.  A very large, very good sandwich, even though I was a little pissed off about the guy’s attitude.  I ate it.  And I am still thin.  I still have only very minimal curves.  And I still don’t give a rat’s ass what some stranger prefers.

For What It’s Worth ~ by Sam

In the days following the election, I have watched events unfold fairly silently.  Initially, it was out of necessity that I was quiet.  I simply was not on social media to comment.  The morning after the election, I went straight to my daughter’s middle school, where I spent that day and the next tallying pie orders for the annual music department fundraiser, because I am a mom, and that’s what we do.  But I started to see things happening. I watched, and I listened.  Over the past week, I have started to feel like I needed to write about what I was witnessing, and so, here it is.  You might not agree with me, and I might not agree with you, and that’s okay, because it takes all kinds of people to make the world whole.  I am confident that, together, we will all be all right.

To my friends who are upset by the negative reaction they are seeing to Donald Trump’s election:

Can you understand the way people who were targeted by the most hateful, hurtful, frightening things that were said during this campaign must be feeling right now?

I know you feel like some of things that are being said are justified. I get that. You, of course, have a right to your opinion. But what if it were you and your family they were talking about?

Sure, you can say it makes sense to talk about deporting people who aren’t here legally and building a wall to keep people out, but, for just a moment, put yourself in the shoes of a 12-year-old who hasn’t the power to vote, who hasn’t the power to stop his loved ones from making the choices they do, but stands to lose them if these laws pass. That’s frightening. He has the right to be afraid, or sad about what is to come. He doesn’t understand what is happening around him, and he only hears the angry words that fly in his direction. There are children at school using the President Elect’s words to bully him. They single him out because he looks different, whether they know his ethnicity or immigration status or not, because his skin is brown, children at school will single out a student (or even whole groups of students) and threaten deportation as a bullying tactic. Children have been surrounded by other students chanting “Build a wall!” Why would a student like the 12-year-old I have described not feel afraid and uncertain? He is a child. Couldn’t you try to understand how he is feeling? Couldn’t you show him some compassion?

What if you were Muslim, and you had been told that we had to be suspicious of Muslim people, because there are “bad Muslims” out there? Aren’t there bad people everywhere? Haven’t we seen bad people do bad things all over the world for all sorts of reasons? I think it’s important to understand that those bad people, no matter what their religious agenda, hurt all of us ~ no matter what our religious agenda. For instance, when people say or do hurtful awful things in the name of Christianity, it wounds me to my very soul, as a Christian. It marks me, to the world, as one of them. The world sees me as one of “those people.” They give me a bad name, just like the “bad Muslims” give all Muslims a bad name. There are so very many good, kind, loving decent Muslim people in the world who are hurt by this attitude, and do not deserve to be lumped in with terrorists simply because they are Muslim. Now, they feel like they have been. They don’t feel safe. Can you understand that? Can you reassure them that they are? Because the man you elected President, and many of his supporters ~ not you, but many of them, and that is, unfortunately, a problem ~ did not instill that confidence. So, can you reach out and extend your hand in friendship to them, and make sure they know that you understand how they are feeling? They are genuinely frightened.

People in the LGBTQ community want to feel safe and respected. I don’t really care how your feel about that. I’m sorry if that bothers you, but your feelings on the matter are irrelevant. They want to know that their rights will be respected and that they will be safe from harm. Safe from harm seems like very little to ask, if you ask me, but many of them are not feeling confident about this, and for good reason. We have a Vice President Elect who has expressed support for conversion therapy. This is a terrifying threat to transgender people who do not have the support of their families and communities to protect them.   My kids have friends who are genuinely worried this may become a reality for them, or for people they care about. Some people we care about live in areas of the country that are not quite so liberal-minded as Southern California, and there is reason for them to be worried about their safety, because it has been threatened. I want to be able to tell them this isn’t something they have to worry about, but I just don’t know. I want to be able to tell my friends they can love who they love, and marry whomever they love, because love is love, and I just don’t think I should get to decide whom anyone but I get to marry; but I am not confident that their rights will be respected. I heard that, when asked, Donald Trump told Caitlyn Jenner that she should use whichever bathroom she preferred, and that gives me hope that he will work to protect the rights of my friends in this community, but they are frightened, and they feel threatened, and not without reason. Can you understand? Can you reassure them?

Women and girls feel hurt and confused and threatened. We are worried about our future. Worried about the lack of respect our President Elect has shown in the way he speaks to and about women. Worried about the fact that remarks he made that described sexual assault were excused as “locker room talk” and “boys will be boys,” or “all men talk like that.” It’s not true. I know men. Men talk about sex. That’s true. So do women. Let’s be honest. But, for now, we’re talking about men, so let’s stay on that topic. Some men brag about their sexual exploits. Healthy, normal, decent men do not brag about sexual assault. They don’t brag about grabbing women without their consent. Or, at least, they shouldn’t, and, if they do, it’s a problem. If those remarks were made off-the-cuff, without forethought, he should have admitted that, taken responsibility for that, and apologized. I mean, he apologized…sorta. But he didn’t apologize for the fact that the remarks were specifically sexual-assault-related. He apologized for their inappropriateness, as if it was the language he used that was the problem. It wasn’t. If he didn’t mean what he said and would never engage in behaviour like that, perhaps he should have said something like, “I didn’t think it through. I realize now I overstepped a line. My remarks were way out of line. Sexual assault is a very serious issue, and I would never do a thing like that. I apologize to the woman we were going to meet, I should never I made those remarks.” And all of the men who excused his remarks could, instead, have said, “Wow. That was reprehensible.” They should have told their sons that kind of talk is never okay, because that kind of action is never okay. They should have told their daughters, their wives, their friends, their mothers, their sisters… that they would never stand for a man talking about women like that ~ and they should follow through and not stand for it ~ because sexual assault is not something you laugh and brag about. They should have taken the opportunity to have a conversation about consent, because, yes, consent is key. Without it, you are committing assault. Not only does “no mean no,” but only “yes” means “yes.” Without “yes,” you must assume the answer is, “no.” If you are a woman who excused his remarks, I don’t even know what to say to you. I guess I will say, “I’m sorry.” I’m sorry that you don’t understand why those words were inexcusable. I’m sorry that you don’t understand why it’s important to stand up against that kind of abuse ~ and yes, I do believe that kind of talk is a kind of abuse. I’m sorry, because I feel like, somewhere, somehow, society failed you. I’m sorry if you are offended by my remarks, but, as a woman who has been sexually assaulted ~ who has had men grab (and more than grab) without waiting for her consent, I cannot excuse remarks like these. I need the world to know that the days of “boys will be boys” are over. We need to move forward with the attitude that “all will be held accountable.” Boys will be good, because they can. Girls will be good, because they can. All of us are capable of being kind, strong, moral and responsible. We need to hold the bar equally high for all people. Boys will one day be men, and what we teach them about issues like consent and culpability when they are young is so incredibly vital that to excuse a remark that would be easy to excuse as off-the-cuff so we don’t have to deal with its implications really is that important, when it comes out of the mouth of someone as powerful and influential as our President Elect. Can you understand how we feel? Can you put yourselves in our uncomfortable shoes and try to make peace with what we must be feeling right now? Can you reassure us that, somehow, this man will represent our best interests? How? How can we be confident going forward that this is true? What reason do we have to believe that?

People with disabilities are hurt. Our President Elect has openly and repeatedly mocked them. I am hard of hearing. Does a President who mocks people’s disabilities represent me? Does he represent my friends and loved ones with disabilities? How are we supposed to believe that he represents our best interests?

As election results were rolling in, members of the younger generation ~ particularly those who are too young to vote and make their own voices heard ~ were sharing links to crisis and suicide hotlines.

Let’s pause to consider that.

That is how genuinely frightened, disenfranchised and powerless they feel.

Do they have grounds to be that frightened of this administration? I hope not. I will pray for excellent advisors and for God’s guiding hand (and if you don’t believe in God, you can take that with a grain of salt, but I am going to be praying, anyway). I understand, given some of the things that were said during the campaign, why they are. What I find most frightening is the bigotry, xenophobia, racism, transphobia, misogyny, sexism, and deep divide that has been awakened in our country during this campaign. And the hate. So much hate. Sadly, I believe it was always there, bubbling under the surface, and people were just afraid to say it aloud. They knew it was socially unacceptable. That’s the damage this campaign has done. It has made it socially acceptable to say and do horrible, hurtful things to people. And no, I am not talking about being “PC,” and creating “safe spaces.” (And it is not okay, by the way, to make fun of young people for talking about those things. They are trying to take social action to make their world a better place. Remember when you were young, and wanted fervently to make your world a better place? They deserve the support you wanted when you were young and idealistic.) I am talking about being a decent human being. I am talking about kindness, compassion, acceptance. I am Catholic, and it is difficult for me to separate my beliefs about these ideals from my religion, because they are grounded in my faith; but maybe they will resonate with some of you, even if you do not believe in God. I believe it is my job to Love my Neighbour. That’s it. It’s that simple. I am supposed to go out in to the world, and spread love. It doesn’t matter who my neighbour is, or what s/he believes, or who s/he voted for, or who s/he loves, or how s/he looks or how s/he got to my country. My first, #1 priority is Love God, and #2 is Love My Neighbour. Since I believe that God exists in everyone and everything, the two are inseparable. I don’t understand from where all of the hate comes. I do understand some of the despair, and the need to rage against the machine, if you will. Can you?

Can you put yourself in their shoes? What if enough members of the Electoral College decide to vote with the Popular Vote instead of the Electoral Vote, and Hillary Clinton ends up being our next President? (It would be unheard of, but it could happen, and it would be perfectly Constitutional.) Would you feel that same need to protest, to rage, to try to exert your right to make things the way you believe they should be, to protect the rights you hold so dear? I believe, perhaps, you would. I want you to know that, even though I do not, necessarily, share all of your political views, I would defend your right to them. I have in the past, and I would continue to do so. I do not, and will not, condone violence of any kind. I do not support rioting or destruction of property. I will not be posting naked pictures of Melania Trump and shaming her. I, too, posed nude (for art classes ~ there are drawings and paintings out there somewhere, I’m sure.). Big deal. Do I believe that all of Trump’s supporter’s fall into those categories of hateful, racist, transphobic, misogynistic, xenophobes? Of course not. I know you. I love you. I have known most of you for most of my life. You are not racists. You are decent people who searched your hearts and voted for the candidate your truly felt was most qualified for the job. I am not sure how you arrived at that decision. I am not sure how you were able to set aside some of the things he said. Maybe you agreed with certain policies he outlined, maybe you were swayed by something you found so compellingly awful about Hillary Clinton that you felt you had to cast a vote against her. Maybe, after 8 years of a Democrat, the country was bound to vote for the Republican candidate, no matter who it was. Maybe you felt underrepresented by the previous administration, and you felt this was the only way to make your voice heard. I don’t know. I do know that you are not filled with the kind of hate we have seen and heard throughout this campaign (and we have seen hate thrown back and forth from both sides). I am still trying to wrap my head around everything I am seeing right now. There are still so many problems we, as a society need to work through, together, as a result of this extraordinarily divisive campaign. I heard the KKK supports this victory so much that they are throwing a parade in celebration. Could that be true? The President elect did not ask for, nor does he condone that endorsement, but it is still a hard pill to swallow. It hurts a lot of our fellow Americans.

The demonstrations that are going on in reaction to the election are a normal and necessary part of the process. Of course you do not agree with them. Your candidate won. You say, “Get over it.” Did you get over it” when Barack Obama won? Did you gleefully line up behind him and enthusiastically support your Commander in Chief? Because I don’t remember those 8 years. I remember a lot of dissent and derision on your part ~ which was absolutely your right. And I do remember outright displays of hate when he was elected. I remember terrible racist displays during his campaign and even after his election. I know you didn’t participate, but please, let’s not pretend it didn’t happen. As recently as yesterday, you have continued to complain about President Obama’s political policies, question his right to office, his commitment to his Christian faith and accuse him of being a too-avid supporter of Muslim people (whatever that means ~ I, frankly, think we should love people of all faiths). The difference is, this time, more than half of the people who voted actually chose a different candidate. However, given how the Electoral College works, Donald Trump won the Electoral Vote, and therefore the White House. There is bound to be some dissent, because, again, more than half of the Popular Vote went to the candidate who did not win. It’s not as if the winning candidate was wildly popular. This not just a case of people being sore losers. It is, as I outlined above, people who actually have real concerns, individuals who have vested interests in the outcome of this election. Well, don’t we all, always? In short, it was a very close race, and a brutal one. Emotions ran high. The question is, now, how do we recover?

No matter what side you find yourself on in this mess, remind yourself, in the end, we are all, first and foremost, Americans, and that has to mean something. Our ultimate goal has to be a pulling together to make a better, stronger Nation for all of us, and that means we all belong here. We all are tiny fibers in a rich tapestry, and that is what makes our Nation whole and unique. We truly are stronger together.

There are things you can do to stand up in solidarity with those who are hurt and frightened. You can wear a safety pin on your lapel, to indicate to others that you are a “safe” person. You can stand up to bullying, racism and hate when you see it in action. You can volunteer time in your community to help those in need. You can pray. You can refuse to engage in hateful, hurtful rhetoric.

If you are protesting, protest. Do not resort to violence in deed or in word. Words can be brutal. Remind yourself what is important to you, and why you are there.

In that spirit, I will leave you with the words of Martin Luther King, Jr., because to this day, even after all that has been said on the subject, I think no one yet has said it better:

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

September ~ by Sam

Well, you see how long that “regularly updating” thing lasted.

For some reason, I have been overwhelmingly tired these past few days.  I will blame it on gremlins.  That’s it.  I must have gremlins.  I did manage to make my first pumpkin pie of the season Sunday night.  I started making it that morning.  I got this far:  img_2297But, first, I lacked the gumption.  Then, I lacked the time.  Finally, I lacked some of the ingredients.  Well, at least I got there eventually, and, at long last. We had pie.  img_2308But it really was at long last.  I pulled it out of the oven after 10pm, so we will ate it the next evening, after watching the 1st Presidential Debate.  (I thought we deserved a reward.)

I also bought an avocado tree on Sunday.  Our tiny little avocado tree just totally bit the dust.  We tried moving it, and, honestly, that was probably just a bad idea.  It was doing okay where it was, but it was in an inconvenient location (poorly chosen by yours truly); and we probably moved it at the wrong time of year, and inexpertly.  So, basically, we killed it.  We are tree-murderers.  I felt very deeply sorry about this, since I was the one who suggested moving it.  I also felt very disappointed at the lost promise of abundant homegrown avocados in my future.  I had found a tree I wanted to buy a couple of weeks ago, but it was attached to a large lattice, and would not fit in the back of my car.  See?  img_1959Nice, right?  But I drive a Prius V, which is sort of like a rounded off station wagon.  That thing is not going to fit in my car.  The avocado tree poses a challenge for us, because it needs to be of a variety that will not grow to be very large (Haas Avocado trees get HUGE), because we have a very small yard, but I do want one that is off to a very good start this time.  So, when I found a large, healthy-looking avocado tree of the same variety we had before (Bacon, which will max out at 10-12 feet high) in the garden section at Home Depot, I decided to bring it home.  In my Prius.  Because I am that woman.  You know, the one who drives home avocado trees in her Prius.  No, thank you, I don’t need any help.  I am doing… JUST.  FINE.  …thank you…  really …ooof…well….maybe just a little…img_2318

In between baking pies and lugging home trees, I managed to get in a little banjo practice, go see Hall & Oates at the Hollywood Bowl with Shane, and organize a messy little corner or two of our home.  img_2312This was such a little change, but I feel so accomplished!  It seems so logical now, but, for the first time since we moved here, the printer paper is under the printer.  This is revolutionary.  This will change everything.  If you could look closely enough, you would see that the shelves below the printer container white and coloured printer paper, lined paper, construction paper, and, on the bottom shelf, all of the unusual papers, cut bits, etc. that might come in handy for things like collages, posters, artwork, projects, and so forth.

On the other side of the Desk, I mounted three inexpensive little bulletin boards I picked up at Target.  Looking at this picture, I kind of wish I had lined them up straight, but my advisors on this project liked the idea of offsetting them, so that’s what I did.  I am still not convinced that was the best design plan, but they are functional, and that is what matters most.  Directly below them, I added a metal strip (I forget what this piece is called ~ I will look it up and edit later) so I could attach these magnetic containers from IKEA to hold paperclips and binder clips.  img_2299I feel like, if I just keep chipping away at it, maybe, someday, all of the mess will be managed.  It could happen, right?

Here’s a picture of the piece I added for the magnetic containers.  img_2303

I am still trying to find better solutions for all of the school supplies, and working out ways to help keep everyone organized.  Does it seem silly that I push the organization so hard?  It’s just that I have watched all of our struggles through the years, and I know that we all work best when everything is where it is supposed to be.  I think that is true for most people.  I don’t think it matters what your “system” is so much as it matters that you find a system that works for you.  Maybe, for some people, not having a system is what works.  I don’t know.  I do know I can’t operate that way.  I need to know that the scissors will be in the drawer where we keep scissors, and the paper will be near the printer, and the index cards will be where we keep index cards, and that, if I look on the shelf where we keep extra notebooks, and it is empty, it means I need to buy more extra notebooks, and not that there are 47 empty notebooks shoved in various nooks and crannies around the house.  (Not that I was stressed out by the lack of organization or anything.  No. Not at all. I was totally rolling with the punches.)

So, here I am today, Tuesday, September 27th.  School has been in session for over a month, and I am still not feeling quite like I have gotten into the swing of things.  I keep being late for pick-up.  The house is messy all the time, and dinner is seldom ready before eight…thirty…nine.  Dinner is seldom ready before nine.  And sometimes, it’s leftovers, or carry-out.  But I have made some steps in the right direction this week, and I will keep plugging away.

I keep seeing signs for seasonal employment at the malls, and wondering if I am ready to make that leap (or, you know, very gentle step).  I am not ready to go back to teaching, but maybe just a few hours a week doing some kind of work would be okay… I mean, the paycheck sure would be nice.

Well, for now, it’s just a thought.  We will see.  I have a pile of clothing blanks to tie dye and list on etsy, and a few other things I need to attend to before it is time to pick up kids ~ and I would like to get in a little banjo and piano practice, too, if possible.  Wish me luck!

Here’s a picture of the Australian Violets in my garden.  They are the reason I don’t mow this part of the lawn.  🙂img_2325


HACKINTOSH – Making a Mac on the cheap

Making a Macintosh with off the shelf PC parts….for a fraction of the cost.

Before I get into this computer building saga, I want to say a word of warning. Unless you are a very technical person who knows how to navigate a basic PC BIOS (motherboard OS) or how to swap out some computer code or know some specifics about piecing together a computer from scratch, I suggest getting help. Even though I am a pretty technical person, and I have built a Hackintosh before, I still needed help. Even after getting help with the first Hack, I still needed help. A lot of it was advice on parts, but the vast majority was in installing the modified OS, and making sure that everything in the BIOS was set for the computer to work. Yes, there are step by step instructions online, but some of these assume you have some basic assembly skills, and BIOS knowhow and a bit of troubleshooting chops. I had that, but still needed help. So if you intend to do this, I suggest you find someone who has done this before, or someone who is technical enough to help decipher what some of the code and tech lingo means. I could not have done this without the gracious help, and patience, of Stefan Avalos and Patrick SheffieldThe reasons will become clear as the saga unfolds.

My old tower is a 2008 MacPro, 16GB of RAM, with a decent graphics card (great for certain older applications). But it’s 2016, and the machine is 8 years old, ancient in computer terms. But it has served me well. Lately I’ve been relying on my 2012 MacBook Pro when cutting in my home office. And I have fully decked it out with 16GB of RAM and two internal SSD drives. It does well too, but really only with Avid Media Composer and simple Resolve and Adobe projects. Since most of the jobs I do in my home office are online and color grading, and I’ve been getting more and more into Davinci Resolve, even this laptop is getting long in the tooth, it’s only four years old, and it still has some life left in it, but forget trying to do 4K with it. And I have several 4K projects on the horizon.

So I need a new computer.

One big stumbling block in this quest for a new computer is that I am a die hard Mac user. I have been since I bought my first computer in 1991. I’ve only owned one PC, and it was solely for gaming. But Apple is fairly behind in their professional line of desktops. The latest MacPro came out in 2013…it is THREE years old. One year younger than my laptop. Sure, the latest iMac came out in Oct, 2015, but I have issues with the expandability of the model. BOTH models to tell the truth. Neither one allows one to swap out the GPU for a better one…one more suited for Resolve and Adobe Premiere Pro. Neither one allows for more internal drives to be added. Neither one allows me to be able to install any sort of card to add ports like eSATA or Fibre or SAS or an internal capture card without using an external box. Apple is dropping the ball on the professional computer needs for video post, this much is clear.

So what about the other option? A PC running Windows. And yes, there are great computers out there for this…the HP line is especially popular, and a solid choice. You can get a decent machine for $2900 and put in one or two very high end graphics cards, as well as additional hard drives. And they can go to upwards of $5000 to $7000. These are decent prices for companies or individuals that use them all the time, and have rental income on them year round. I don’t, I do projects here and there. And have small budgets.

But I have another issue…most of my clients require specific video codec (ProRes) exports…something Windows machines can’t encode (Apple made it…so they are very protective). They are either coming from Apple editing apps and need either to be round tripped, or they need ProRes Quicktime exports to meet network delivery requirements. So if I went with a PC, I’d have to keep an old Mac around to convert the exports (my MacBook Pro will do that). It’s a BIG issue on Windows, as recently Apple announced that it would stop supporting Quicktime on Windows altogether, so just having it installed is an issue. But this would also mean double encoding and risking losing quality and having colors shift.

This had me looking at Apple options. I spoke to many people and they said that interesting enough, the Retina iMacs were more stable with applications I was leaning towards using (Resolve and Premiere Pro) than the late-model MacPro. And there were reports of graphics cards issues on the MacPro…an issue so bad that Apple offered a repair program for it. Many people recommended that I get the best iMac there is, and maxed out with everything…better processor, the most RAM it could get, best graphics card offered. I priced that out and it came to be $4200. And any expansion, as I said, is all external, which means a more cluttered workstation. And very VERY limited graphics card options.

That got me to thinking…what about a Hackintosh? (That’s a computer built with off the shelf computer parts that runs the Mac OS…one that’s been modified a little to work with these components) I’ve built one before. And I have a couple friends to have also done this before, quite a few times. They have built multiple systems for themselves and others..Hackintosh models that they use professionally, for years. So I got to looking into that option.

NOTE…in order to build a Hackintosh need to get very specific computer components that have been tested to work properly with the modified Mac OS. I set about researching this starting with the go-to site for this,″>

And see posts of people’s success stories, and what components they’ve used…as well as failure stories where they explain why certain OS versions or certain hardware components don’t work. So it’s a good place to see what to do, and what not to do.

In looking for a basic motherboard, I found one that many people used…it has two Thunderbolt 2 and lots of USB 3 ports, and it one of the MacPro build options. The issue was that it was a couple years old, and I couldn’t find it anywhere. When I looked for more current motherboards, I found some with Thunderbolt 3, but people said that when they built their hacks with them, the TB3 wouldn’t work. The MacOS doesn’t have drivers for that yet…one place where Apple is falling behind in tech that IT introduced. I found the other components I wanted, but without that motherboard that has Thunderbolt 2…I was stalled.

So I set about saving up money for that iMac, or one of the PC options. And just when I was about to do that, I started chatting with Stefan about this (one of the hack makers), and he was trying to convince me to make the hack (one thing he said was “friends don’t let friends use Windows!) . And he was able to look up a couple builds and track down the board I needed.

I ordered a Motherboard ($140), RAM ($183), Processor ($340), Processor Cooling ($40), Graphics Card ($389), solid state hard drive ($158), Case ($120), and Power Supply ($110)…and tax/shipping for all of this was $130.65 So the total cost of all the parts was $1593.65. Less than half the price of the iMac, and four times cheaper than the MacPro (it can be equipped with slightly faster processors, and it has dual GPU…down the line I intend to add another GPU) I already owned the two 23” displays, keyboard, mouse, and Thunderbolt 2 Bridge. And this configuration doesn’t include a wifi card or capability. Patrick (the other helpful guy) had a wireless ethernet receiver that he had sitting unused, so he gave that to me. Otherwise, you’d either need to get one, or have the ability to connect your internet router directly to the computer.

The processors in build is more on par with the high end iMac. If you configure it, you can equip it with an 4.0Ghz i7, which is the same general model I purchased. But mine can turbo boost to 4.4Ghz, where it caps off at 4.2Ghz. And while it is called a QUAD CORE processor, it has 8 threads, so essentially an 8 core processor. As for the MacPro, those processors are called 6-core, 8-core and 12-core, but from research I can see that Apple disables hyperthreading in them. Don’t get me wrong, they still will out-perform the processor I have….but I’m also not shelling out what it costs for those machines, and their iffy GPUs.

I ordered all the parts…the fun was about to begin.

“Are there supposed to be two of these?” My wife texts me at work. “I thought you were only making one of these.”

On Friday the parts for the computer arrived. And apparently something happened with the order, as TWO computer cases arrived. So my wife, who knew I was building ONE computer was confused, as TWO arrived. Actually, I know what happened. I ordered several things from Amazon and they all cleared, but the order for the case for some reason needed validation from my bank. I answered all the bank questions, but got one wrong, so they declined the order. So I ordered from another source (manufacture direct) and that order cleared. And then unbeknownst to me, the other order cleared too and the item shipped…although the notification for that didn’t arrive until it already arrived on my doorstep. OK, no problem…I’ll return one of them. But this seemed to be an omen of things to come…

So, here it was, Friday night and all my stuff arrived. Time to assemble the computer! My buddy Patrick wanted to come over for that so after dinner he arrived and we set to building the computer. I had to put a few things on the board before I put it in the computer. First thing to do is the processor. So Patrick made sure that I bought some good thermal paste, for the connection of the processor to the cooling fan. Both Patrick and Stefan said that I needed to get a good cooling fan, as the one provided was…well…lacking is the term. As you can see, the difference is huge.

If this baby was going to deal with high end video (including 4K), it would kick into TURBO mode, and for that, it needed really good cooling. So I put the processor in place, wiped it clean with an alcohol wipe (that Patrick brought with him in his “Hackintosh kit”) applied thermal paste, spread it with a small spatula (provided with the paste) and screwed everything into the motherboard. Then I went to install the RAM… Wait. Where’s the RAM? Dammit! The RAM didn’t arrive. I look at my web orders and sure enough, I FORGOT TO ORDER RAM! Lordy. No worries, in Patrick’s Hack kit there were 2x4GB sticks and 1x8GB stick of RAM that we used for this install. Install those, go online to order RAM. OK, whew. So we inserted them and then mounted the motherboard into the case. OH…I should mention that when I found that the motherboard was available, I ordered it right away, before anything else. because I knew it was in short supply. And Patrick ordered one too, for when he was going to upgrade his machine. His arrived quickly, mine did not. After two weeks I emailed to ask about it, and they responded, apologized, and got one out to me ASAP, and included a “goody bag” of a few neat items (alas, not RAM, like I hoped, given my current situation).

Then came time for the power supply. Installed that, and then with all the power cords that came with it, set about plugging them into the power unit, and then into the motherboard. Then I plugged various cables onto the motherboard for power, the Power LED light, the FANs, the USB connectors, audio connectors. This I had done before, having made a hack before. But when I first did it, Patrick was a great help. I’d have been a bit lost in the manual on this…or slowed down a bit. But I soon got things into place. And connected the hard drive power to the power supply as well.

So I had this 2.5″ Solid State drive for my main system drive, and it doesn’t fit into the standard 3.25″ drive bay, not without an adapter. I knew this and had ordered one with all the rest of the stuff. But it was cheap and plastic ($4) and it broke in a couple places. Joy. But that’s when I discovered that the case I ordered appeared to come with some sort of mount on the other side of the case where I put the motherboard. Patrick figured out that that’s where one can mount two SSD drives. COOL! That meant that I’d have more room in the three 3.25″ drive bays for three SATA drives I had. Perfect

OK, I now had everything installed and was ready to install the Mac OS! We were going to install Yosemite, as it was the best one for this specific setup.

Now…one doesn’t simply install the OS that Apple has. Oh my no. You need to go to the Tonymac site and download one of their modified installers, and follow their specific install guides (brilliant coders modify the install to work with certain off the shelf parts, thus why you follow a guide for what to buy). I followed this one for Yosemite and made an install flash drive. This is the one Stefan recommended as rock solid, and the one he used to make several Hacks. And it was very similar to the one I used the first time I made one. BUT, first things first, we need to modify things in the BIOS (that’s the motherboard OS) before we install. turn off certain things, enable others. It’s all in that guide.

So I did all that…correction, Patrick did all that…

And we modified things and started the boot! We did it in what is called VERBOSE MODE, meaning it shows all the code as it starts up. So you can see what process is happening. So if something bad happens, or the install fails, you can see why.

What I found fascinating about this is that this code was filled with very casual conversation instructions. “THE TIMEOUT KEY IS NO LONGER RESPECTED. IT NEVER DID ANYTHING ANYWAY.” “THIS KEY DOES NOT DO ANYTHING, PLEASE REMOVE IT.” “THE HIDEUTILCHECKIN UTILITY IS AN ARCHITECTURAL ISSUE. PLEASE TRANSITION AWAY FROM IT.” Can you believe that? POLITENESS! IN THE CODE! “Please’s” all over the place. And while this is the modified installer, all of this code is actually the real installer…this is code from Apple.
Ok, we see that code for a while and then it stops. And stayed stopped. It was hung. It did say something about the NVIDIA driver, so hmm. A bit of research on that and we found a post on Tonymac where someone had a similar issue. They solved it by Typing some code in the install options to disable the NVIDIA driver.

So we did that…and it froze again. Hmmm. Well, let’s look in the BIOS…did we miss something? No, not that we can see. Let’s disable THUNDERBOLT, just in case. We try that. Nothing. Patrick was prepared for this, and in his Hack kit he had a different installer, one that he made based on instructions from another site. So we try that one. Freeze. Hmm…let’s disable a couple things. Freeze. DRAT. The drive isn’t formatted yet, perhaps that is it. It was something I planned to do when we were in the install screen. So I mount it in a drive doc and connect that to my laptop. I format the drive MacOS Extended, and put it back into the Hack. Boot…freeze. Well, OK then. Stumped. And by this time it’s midnight and we have things to do in the AM. I’ll research more and he will, and Stefan will (I was keeping him in the loop via Skype) and we’d tackle it later.


Saturday afternoon arrives…and so does my RAM. Wow…that was fast. I just ordered it the night before, at like 10 PM. Crucial seems to be giving AMAZON a run for it’s money in terms of delivery speed. OK, I install that RAM and make another install drive, based on another site. I try booting that and…boom, the computer restarts. Odd. I try again. The computer gets so far, and then restarts. Damn. I try another method. That one too restarts the computer. Patrick was busy today, but Stefan was available, so he drove over with HIS install flash drive. The one that he knew was bullet proof, and what he used to make his Hacks. So he arrives and takes over the command chair. He looks at the BIOS, adjusts a few things, and then boots off the flash drive.
We watch the goes…goes…then the code goes away and I see a white screen! Wait, something is happening. I lean forward looking at the screen…this is truly a LEAN FORWARD moment.

BOOM! THE INSTALL SCREEN! YES YES YES! OK, let’s install this. We start the installer, it starts installing. YAY! OK, this is working. I must have messed something up on my end with the installer. 13 Min remaining….11, 10, 9…black screen. What? Then the BIOS popped up again. DAMN, restarted. install failed. What? OK, so we try again, but we need for format the drive first, as it has a partial install on it. So we go to the Disk Utility and go to wipe the drive…erase failed…couldn’t dismount the drive. Try again, same message. Try to just partition the drive…failed, couldn’t unmount. So we google the issue. One solution was to use TERMINAL to do the wipe. We try…fail. Damn. Well, I had to format it with my computer. So I do that, put it back into the Hack. Try the install again. 13, 12, 11…REBOOT.


Stefan starts googling and reading about similar events. Finds some post on an Apple forum about this. One suggestion is that the SATA cable might be bad. STUPID solution, but what the hell. So we swap out the cable. Boot the installer, go to wipe the drive…IT WORKED! BAD CABLE! YES, that was the issue! We run the installer again. 13, 12, 11…reboot.

DAMMIT. OK, what is this? Disabled the NVIDIA card, the RAM I ordered bad? I take it out, put back in the RAM Patrick bought. Reboot, reformat the drive, start the install. 13, 12, 11…reboot. Crap. OK, let’s unplug the Nvidia card and plug the monitor directly into the motherboard DVI. 13, 12, 11…reboot. CRAP! Ok…it was 1AM, and I started a job the next day and needed to get up early. And Stefan needed a break too. This perplexed us both…these are solid installs.


Monday. After work I get home to a package. RAM. Yup, MORE RAM arrived. This was actually the RAM I ordered when I realized that I didn’t order RAM. Only I DID order RAM, it just invoiced separately (this happens on Amazon, apparently…happened with the CASE too). So now I had two orders of RAM. OK…guess I need to RMA this. But…let me try it in the computer first. After dinner Patrick came over with an installer that he made custom for this build, using yet another method. Same base installer as before, but more modifications. Install the new RAM… fiddle with the BIOS, boot the installer…fiddle with boot options…then go to install. Get to the installer, reformat the drive, run the installer. 13, 12, 11, 10, 9….8. I LEAN IN AGAIN! This one is going to work it’s going to…


DAMMIT! We both curse and hit the desk at the same time. We thought for sure this would do it. But alas. So more fiddling, more install attempts. No go. This just wasn’t working. And it was getting late again, the kids school started tomorrow, and I needed to be up at 5:30, so Patrick offered to take my machine. I take the RAM out and set about RMAing it. He takes my machine and I bid him farewell.


Patrick texts me in the evening. “Dude. Bad news.” Uh oh. “I literally disconnected one computer, put yours in its place and hooked up keyboard and monitor, pressed power, the light flickered and nothing, then I smelt burnt electronics.” CRUD! The computer is fried! NUTS! “I suspect power supply, but I have to open the case and test.” Actually it was his son that first discovered the smell. “Dad, why does it smell like that?” And he quickly unplugged the machine. I had a question for him. “Don’t happen to be missing your glasses are you?” “Um. Yes…” “Well, I have some bad news too…”

I found them in the street near where he parked his car. BUT, they were cheap reading glasses so it wasn’t horrible news. It wasn’t a fried computer.

Patrick bought a power supply tester and tested my power supply. It tested good. OK, so it wasn’t the supply that sizzled. That meant that it was something else…the motherboard. Great. BUT…do you recall early on that I said that he bought an identical board? That evening he was nice enough to take apart the computer, unplug all the power and computer connections, take the board out, take out the processor, clean it off, and reinstall it and the heat sink and all the connections to his motherboard.
Can you guess what happened next?

“Dude! I transferred your CPU and memory (cleaned the CPU of all heat sink compound and re-applied). Mounted it in your case, hooked all the cables. Went with internal gfx to start and adjusted the BIOS settings, put in your SSD, and booted and bam! It all worked. No glitches or errors, ran Cinebench just fine. Of course the internal GPU is only 24 fps as opposed to 124 for the Nvidia, but damn. It all worked.”

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IT WORKED! The damn thing worked! It was the motherboard…the whole time it was the flipping motherboard. This is actually something that Stefan said might be the issue. This install not working didn’t make any sense, and with the amount of troubleshooting we made, he was fairly certain it was the motherboard. “Get an RMA for that motherboard, it’s clearly bad.” Patrick messsaged. “You can smell the burnt electronics on it.”

The machine boots just like a Mac, Apple load screen and all…

And there you have it. The Saga of the Amphibi-hack. ALL of this trouble installing things, all of the issues and errors, and it was the motherboard. Some flaw in it caused the install to fail. The next day Patrick brought it back, and I hooked everything up and it booted just fine. And QUIET too (it is a QUIET case). It’s running 10.9.5, and I was able to install Avid Media Composer 8.6.0, Resolve 12.5 and even FCP 7 and DVD Studio Pro. I haven’t gotten around to installing Premiere Pro yet. I let my subscription lapse as I don’t use it for anything yet, I have CS6 on my laptop and use that for quick family videos. I hope to install it soon.

And, as you can see, doing all of this required help. If this were a smooth install, were the motherboard a good one, the initial installer would have worked fine, and I would…should…have been able to do this fine on my own. The instructions are pretty clear on what BIOS settings to adjust and what boot options to enable and disable. But man, when things go wrong, it’s nice to have someone who knows better at your side. Even better, two.

So yes, I deem this a worthy venture and I have a very nice new computer…EXPANDABLE computer…to work with (note the three internal SATA drives…and remember, the SSD is on the other side). And thus far it’s running gangbusters. And the Hacks my friends made all work great too, and are their primary work machines. So if you want to embark on this adventure, I encourage it. It helps build ones technical knowledge and gets you invested in your computer. But I do advise you try to find someone to help out, if you can. Because as you can see…shit happens.


If you would like to see the full technical posts on this process, they can be found in two parts…HERE and HERE.

So Much to Say ~ by Sam

After seeing how well the photo-heavy post worked last week, I decided to do another this week.  Perhaps, I will just keep posting that way, just to keep posting something.  Shane has promised to post about the computer he is building ~ oh, the trials and tribulations of the Great Computer Build of 2016! ~ when he has time, but he is, as usual, working several jobs at once, so it might be some time before he gets to that.  Well, he is not working several jobs at the moment.  At this particular moment, he is sleeping, as he should, after a much-needed night out for just the two of us at Cheesecake Factory (and, yes, there are things I can eat there ~ there is a Vegan Cobb Salad, in fact, that is quite good, and almost as large as I, to boot, so I will be eating that for days) and a very heavy work week.  Kaia is at a friend’s Bat Mitzvah, and the other kids are still asleep, because it is Saturday morning, so they can sleep in.  Me?  I was up to get the kid to the early Bat Mitzvah, and now I am drinking coffee, writing, and neglecting chores.  Three of my favourite pastimes!

I decided to do another photo-post this week, because I enjoyed looking back on my week.  Sometimes, I feel like the days and weeks and months all bleed together, and I find myself gasping for air and thinking, “Wait!  Stop!  What??  It’s April?!!  When did that happen??  Where were January, February, March???  Didn’t we celebrate Christmas???!!!!  Slow down already!!!”  It is my hope that, by taking time to make a regualr “Week in Review” post, I will remember to pause and appreciate all of the moments, big and small, that make up our lives.  As Social Distortion told me: “Life goes by so fast!  You only want to do what you think is right.  Close your eyes and it’s past.”  Yeah, that certainly is the “Story of My Life,” too.  So, I am pausing to think, and I am letting you in, if you want to come along for the ride.  Here it is, then, my week in review:

We went to see The Tempest at the Griffith Park Free Shakespeare Festival (find more info here: Griffith Park Free Shakespeare Festival

I had a lot of busy days, but am trying really hard to remember to make healthy choices.  I don’t like much fruit, but I know it’s good for me.  The medication I am on impairs my appetite somewhat, and can, in combination with another medication I must take, cause dehydration, so I have to be very careful to make sure I:
a) REMEMBER TO EAT (trust me, this is not as easy as it sounds ~ and yes, I realize how ridiculous that is), and
Because I practically live in my car, I have to eat there, sometimes, too; but I am trying to make healthy choices when I do.  Pears I can stand.  They are an acceptable fruit.  Coconut water is very hydrating.  Violets are always a winner.


Right.  That thing about being healthy.  I just said that, and now, I am gonna post poptarts.  It’s true, I made poptarts.  I made them because it’s all good and well to be healthy, but you have to also eat delicious things and have fun, too, and homemade poptarts are really the best poptarts.  You can make your own crust, or just use store bought piecrust (I make my own, because I prefer it, and it’s really pretty simple, using an oil pastry recipe my mom gave me) and you can fill them with jam or, as I did, brown sugar & cinnamon mixed w/ a little almond meal, butter and pinch of salt.  Okay, so they are still a little bit healthy and kind of nerdy, as compared to regular poptarts.  Being a little bit healthy and kind of nerdy, myself, I can live with that.


I added a few little touches to the Alice Garden, including teacup & saucer birdfeeders I made using pieces purchased from a thrift store; and while I wouldn’t call it “finished,” by any stretch of the imagination (and I don’t think I ever will), I do think it is looking quite “Alice-y,” indeed.

Shane brought me a tiny bouquet of flowers; and I picked up two magazines about two pretty amazing people, but I haven’t had time to start reading either of them yet.

I continue to walk and use the free equipment at the local park 2-3 times/week.  I keep thinking about signing up for a gym membership or the YMCA, and I might just do it when it gets too cold for me to be outdoors, but, for now, this is my gym:


Saw yet another positively glorious North Hollywood sunset.  I got to enjoy it with my kids, thanks to a phone call from Shane, to give us a heads-up from our homework and chores.  I love that we do this for each other.  Any one of the five of us will call or text to say, “You have to go outside and see (the Moon/sunset/rainbow,etc.).”  It’s just one of the things that makes us who we are.  I hope we always do that.  As usual, the pictures just don’t do it justice.  The sun was glowing deep red.  I did the best I could to capture it with my little phone camera, but you’ll just have to trust me, it was roughly 8,000x more glorious.

We celebrated Gene Kelly’s birthday by watching a bunch of his best dance numbers (which pretty much means all of them ~ they were all his best).

I baked a darned good gluten-free apple pie, if I do say so myself (I do, by the way)!  I didn’t intend for it to be gluten-free, but discovered, after I had already started peeling apples, that I didn’t have enough regular flour to make pie crust.  I did, however, happen to have some gluten-free flour left over from a baking project Kaia had done for her Girl Scout troop, so I decided to just go ahead and make a gluten-free pie crust.  Turned out great, so, should the need arise, I now know I can do this.  Also, I got to have pie for breakfast one day.  Oh, we totally had pie for dinner.  It has fruit, see, and fruit is good for us.

Justice brought home a huge bouquet of sunflowers!  Thank you!


Kaia did her homework outside one day; and it was accidentally left outside.  The next morning, at 5:00 a.m., the sprinklers went off.  Later that morning, as she was getting ready to leave for school, she couldn’t find her homework. I’ll bet you can guess where it was.  Yeah.  We used a hairdryer set on low to dry it.  Only one finished math equation was completely washed away.  Her teachers were very understanding about its rumpled condition.


I FINALLY started painting the detail above the shower in the kids’ bathroom.  I know.  It still looks pretty shoddy here.  Give me some time.  And look with your hearts. The Fox taught me that is only with the heart that one can see rightly.  What is essential is invisible to the eye!  (I’ll post more pics when it’s done.)


Last, but not least, I played my banjo.  I am getting used to the new banjo.  She looks, feels and plays different than the old banjo.  I will still play both, but, for now, I am just playing the new one, because…well, the old one is a little easier to play, I guess; so I feel like I need to work with the new one until I get used to her.  The new banjo is so much heavier!  I feel like I am lifting a small child (or a medium-sized child…who is carrying a small dog).  I love her.  I mean, she’s beautiful, so it was kind of love at first sight, if you believe in that sort of thing.  Have you met her?  Her name is Babe.  Ain’t she a beaut?