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January in Vegas 2014 - Day 5

Our last day in Vegas. And I took no notes whatsoever for this day, so at this point I'm at the mercy of my old and faulty memory. I do know that Nyssa slept as late as possible while I whiled away some time downstairs playing slots and drinking ginger ale. I bounced back and forth between Kitty Glitter and Da Vinci Diamonds, both of which let me get some good play for my money. I headed back upstairs to drag Nyssa out of bed so that we could check out and go for lunch. We left the bags at the Bell Desk and we told we could just pick them up at the taxi stand when we were ready to head to the airport. Nice touch.

I know what I forgot. On our way to Luxor for dinner we went through the Monte Carlo and found out where the elevator was to the tram for Bellagio. Oh well, didn't hurt us any to have walked. And we did spend a fair amount of time gambling at NYNY that evening, as we know where the machines are that we like.

Anyway, today was lunch at Sugar Factory, another Groupon meal. I love the look the Paris, though we've not spent much time there. We didn't order any of the fancy drinks at Sugar Factory, just lunch. Nyssa had their signature burger and I had the chicken and waffles. Both were very good, though the portions were so large there wasn't a hope of us clearing our plates. I'd go back here for chicken and waffles, though I'd be more inclined to split those along with a shared appetiser or salad. There might be a chance of finishing a meal that way. :)

The rest of the day was just spent gambling. We had talked about going to Burger Bar for dinner but those plans fell by the way. We knew we'd be pushing it fit two meals, since our flight that evening was earlier than our usual one closer to midnight. Easy cab ride to the airport, they got us a wheelchair for Nyssa and wheeled her to security, which made it easy for me get our things there. My bag was checked, so only her carry on to deal with.

We both got a tapas box on the plane, though we knew we probably wouldn't eat it until we got home. Paid for the TV and promptly slept through most of it. And somehow, as we got off the plane in Newark, I forgot to pick up her carry on from the overhead rack. We're sitting at the gate and realise we've forgotten it. The agent at our gate called back to our arrival gate and they had it sitting there, so I jumped on the shuttle to go get it. On the way back, I step off the shuttle and hit a piece of ice. Down I go, twisting my ankle in the process. They wanted to get me an ambulance but I declined. I had no problem signing off on a note for them saying I was declining treatment. Yeah, I have travel insurance, but much easier to deal with a twisted ankle when I get home. Getting through the airport at home was a bit rough, almost needed a second wheelchair for me because it's a darn long walk, but I managed. It ended up costing me a second week off work, which seriously hampers my being able to afford our annual summer Vegas vacation. Not aided by my then catching the crud that's going around and 2 weeks later missing another week of work. *sigh* Oh, well, we're more than willing to put the next Vegas off until fall if we have to, though it would be very disappointing to not spend my birthday in Vegas.

Much as I've enjoyed our January trips to Vegas, not sure if another one next year is in the cards, especially if we put the summer trip off until fall. And we have been talking about doing a short cruise together, on the condition that it leaves from New Orleans.

January in Vegas 2014 - Day 4

Today was to have been our spa day. I contemplated not doing it at all, since Nyssa couldn't join me. But $30 for unlimited use of the facilities for the day seemed too good to pass up, especially considering I'd spend more than that if I went down for coffee and gambling instead. So spa it was. I put in my bathing suit, slipped on my sandals, threw on the bathrobe from the closet and headed down. I'd never done a spa day before, so was a bit intimidated. Very cool to note that the spa pass was not taxable - straight up $30. Anyway, the young lady at the desk gave me the tour of the facilities, assigned me a locker and showed me how to set a code for the lock. She also have me spa sandals and one of their robes so I didn't have to get mine wet.

The spa has wonderful facilities. Three whirlpools of varying temperatures. I found the cool one a bit too much like the winter I'd just left at home and the hot one was very hot, so I stuck with the one in the middle, feeling a bit like Goldilocks. The sauna was nice, the eucalyptus steam room I couldn't do. I tried. Twice. My glasses fogged up the second I got in there, I couldn't see a darn thing. The salt room is relaxing, with comfy lounger type chairs, headphone supplied if you want to listen to the music, magazines that I didn't notice until I was leaving. The warm stone beds nearly put me to sleep. Flat stone beds, nicely warm without being hot, bamboo head rests, relaxing instrumental music, very dim lighting. Oh, and out by the whirlpools are a selection of teas and a fridge of pop, water and a large selection of juices. They have showers, of course, with really nice toiletries. Everything you might need is there - shampoo, conditioner, moisturiser, blow dryers - the whole shebang.

But the best part of the spa? The infinity pool! It's outside. This morning outside was pretty cool, so that steam was rising off the water. But the sun was nice, there was a great view out towards the mountains. It's really just a very, very long, rectangular Jacuzzi type pool. It was glorious. Apparently not everyone's cup of tea on a cool morning, as there was only one other person there. He said this was his favourite way to spend a Vegas morning and I have to say I agree with him. It would probably be less relaxing in good weather when it would be more crowded, but this morning we had it to ourselves. I spent a couple hours trying the various rooms (salt room, stone beds), always going back to the infinity pool in between. It was nearly time to head for lunch by the time I got back to the room. What a glorious way to spend a morning. We do have to back here sometime when Nyssa can enjoy it with me.

Lunch today was the Spice Market buffet at Planet Hollywood, another place we'd never been into before. They had a clear lack of signage for elevators and it took us a while to find an accessible route to the buffet. We had a Groupon for this one and it included unlimited drinks. Well, it would have could we have gotten decent service. I think Nyssa managed to squeak 2 drinks out of it, but the table beside wasn't so lucky. Their first drinks arrived as they were leaving. We found the food to our liking, though and there was lots of great options we never got around to. We did find a few things that were fairly large servings, so we'd split those in order to both be able to try as much as we wanted without filling up on a particular item. We did do a bit of dessert, but that's because they had cotton candy, something that you can manage no matter how full you are. It's not like it has any substance. :)

We did gamble at bit at Planet Hollywood before we left but didn't really find anything we liked and weren't really inclined to explore the casino very much. We headed back to Aria, did some more gambling. There had to have been a power nap in there or else I'd never have been awake for a late dinner reservation. I had considered going back down to the spa but sleep won.

Dinner was at Tender Steakhouse at the Luxor, another meal courtesy of MyVegas (spend $150, get $75 off). We had examined their menu online multiple times before the trip, so pretty much knew what we wanted to eat before we got there. Our waiter was great, the service was wonderful and the food was good. Note that I'm not saying the food was great. It fell just short of that, but it was still somewhere I'd consider revisiting. On the good part, what we ate!

We both started with the soup trio. They have 4 soups on the menu and you can get a tasting of three. We both chose the lobster bisque and the Kobe style beef chili. For my third one I had the onion and leek soup and Nyssa had the mushroom. All were excellent. The chili had some heat to it but was topped by crème fraiche and chives to cut the heat a bit.

Nyssa had the filet mignon for her main and I had the game tasting trio. We order Brussels sprouts as one side and I think we had garlic mashed as the second side. The game tasting trio was what had prompted me to want to try this restaurant. It included an antelope osso bucco, wild boar loin with fig chutney and faro and a venison medallion. I asked for it to be cooked medium instead of my usual medium rare, as I prefer my game meats a little less red. And it was all perfect and tasted wonderful until I got to the venison. It was rare. Not even medium rare, but red, bloody rare. We signal the waiter to come over and let him know of the problem. He comes back with a small plate and set of little tongs and removes the offending piece of meat from my plate. He even took the little slice I'd taken off the medallion. And he comes back later with the exact same piece of meat, including the little bit I'd sliced off. What the hell? When something isn't cooked properly in a fine dining establishment, you're not supposed to toss the meat back on the grill for recooking. What you're supposed to do is cook up a new piece of meat. Well, technically you're supposed to re-do the whole plate, but I would have been happy with fresh piece of venison. What I was not happy with is them reheating the original piece of food. Bad form for any upscale place. Still, the meal was good except for that snafu.

After dinner we gambled out way back to Aria, where we then gambled some more. As seemed to be our pattern, I then went to bed and left Nyssa and her wallet at the mercy of the gambling gods.

January in Vegas 2014 - Day 3

Having been up until the wee hours gambling, Nyssa slept as late as possible. I went down for my usual slots and coffee. I also spent some time wandering around the casino taking pictures of all the stained glass for my sister-in-law who's a wiz with making stained glass art.

Once Nyssa got up it was moving day - time to change hotels. Our second hotel of the trip was Aria for the last 2 nights, courtesy of the MyVegas game. I'd heard great things about this hotel and was looking forward to checking it out. Our usual mode of transportation is the bus when in Vegas, but with Nyssa out of commission for walking a cab was in order. We did ask about complimentary upgrades but nothing was available right away. If we'd been willing to wait for a room, I'm pretty sure the young man would have found us something nice, but he was most concerned about getting us into a room as soon as possible so that we could take advantage of the complimentary wheelchair that would be available to Nyssa. A wise call on his part, in my opinion. He did give us the highest possible floor that had smoking rooms - floor 11, room 11084. He also arranged for a tray of goodies to be sent up to the room for us and gave us a line pass for the duration of our stay, including check out day. We ended up never needing to use the line pass but it was a very thoughtful thing to do.

We headed to the Bell Desk first after check-in to get the wheelchair. The young ladies there were very nice, friendly and helpful. To our relief we also found out from them that we did not need to return the chair on check-out, but could keep it until we got into our cab for the airport and just had to leave it with the person at the taxi line. One less thing to worry about - how Nyssa would get around for half a day after we checked out.

Up we headed to room and we loved it. We spent some time playing with the remote. Everything in the room is controlled by that remote - the lights, curtains, TV. You even use it to indicate whether you want the room serviced or not. It was a neat new toy to play with, much to Nyssa's dismay - I turned all the lights out while she was in the bathroom! Apparently turning the room off completely does that, as well as drawing all the curtains closed (the room has sheers and a blackout curtain, in case you want to eliminate all possibility of waking up with the sunrise). The beds were incredibly comfortable and the pillows were to die for. If we weren't already juggling things in terms of baggage on this trip we might have considered buying a couple of those pillows.

At this point lunch was in order, so down we headed to the MLife desk. We had 2 MyVegas rewards to redeem for lunch - the lunch buffet for 2 and unlimited drinks with lunch for Nyssa. The young ladies at the desk were great, got everything loaded onto the card quickly. They also offered us a line pass but we already had one. Not sure if all the offering of passes was standard or because Nyssa was in the chair, but it was appreciated either way. We found lots we liked at the buffet - crab legs, shrimp, potstickers, brussel sprouts, mashed potatoes, caprese salad, ceviche, chips and pico de gallo, mussels, and an awesome pretzel bread. Yeah, I eat bread at a buffet. I'm a sucker for a nice bread and some butter. There was also a decent selection of drinks for Nyssa with her unlimited addition and she managed to try a couple over the course of the meal. I even went for dessert with my coffee, which I don't usually have room for - panna cotta with, I think, blood orange coulis, an almond croissant, a coconut macaroon and a couple tiny rice krispy squares.

Thoroughly full, it was time to explore the hotel. We had never set foot in Aria before so there was lots to see. We did wander down and check out the spa, which I suspect bored Nyssa since she had been told by the doctor that no pools or Jacuzzis were allowed for her. Bummer, as we'd talked about doing a spa morning. No massages or anything, just time in the sauna, whirlpools, etc. The hotel was in the process of putting the finishing touches on the decorations for the Chinese New Year and everything looked great. We took some pictures of the décor during our exploration and more the day we checked out.

Of course, no exploration would be complete without gambling. We found a bank of Willy Wonka slots at the back of the casino and they became a place to check out every day. Today they showed me no love whatsoever, though Nyssa did win a bit. We also found a few of the Lord of the Rings Return of the King machines in that end of the casino but they just sucked money out of my wallet as well. Time to head up to the room for a power nap.

After naptime it was time for food again. This time we were heading to the Bellagio for their dinner buffet. But first, the getting to the buffet. We knew there was a tram that ran between the Monte Carlo and the Bellagio, with a middle stop at Aria. So we head up for the tram and don't see any way to get to the top level to board the train. All we see are stairs. Okay, time for plan B. We head out through the Crystals shops to Las Vegas Blvd and up the walkway beside the Bellagio fountains. I knew it was uphill going that route and hadn't been looking forward to pushing the chair up that way but it wasn't anywhere as difficult as I thought it would be.

Once again it was a stop at the MLife desk to get the reward loaded to our card. We just had one buffet from MyVegas and we split the cost of the second one. Nyssa had never been there for dinner before and I don't think she's keen to do it again. She prefers their lunch buffet. I like the dinner one just as much as lunch, but I'm more of a meat eater at buffets than she is, so either meal suits me fine. Dinner buffets do tend to lean a bit more towards lots of meat offerings. When dinner was over it was time for a bit of gambling and a smoke. So I sit myself in front of a John Wayne machine, drop in my $20 and light a cigarette. And one spin in I realise it's a nickel machine instead of a penny one. Damn, this got us last time, too, and we'd forgotten all about it. Oh well, it only took me one spin before I realised how fast it would suck up my money, so no harm done. The fact that we'd made this mistake on the last visit as well was good for a laugh.

Off we head back to Aria, stopping along the way to watch the fountains. After a bit of gambling I head up to bed and Nyssa stays up gambling.

January in Vegas 2014 - Day 2

Started my day the usual way, downstairs for slots and coffee while Nyssa slept a bit. Didn't win anything big but my money lasted pretty well. Once Nyssa was up it was time for something to eat. Ate at our buffet, used our $10 for the day. The buffet is what it is for a cheap a buffet - decent food but nothing special. Buffets can be a challenge when you're in wheelchair, as Nyssa found out. Definitely makes getting soup difficult. :)

After lunch it was time to make our way to El Cortez for some cheap roulette. Along the way we stopped at the California for some Willy Wonka. They have 2 machines side by side and we'd tried them the night before but one of them went out of order and only one of us got to play. Apparently this was a good thing, as Nyssa hit an Oompa Loompa bonus for $123 this afternoon. Clearly the machine had wanted her to wait to play. :)

A couple hours at El Cortez for roulette. My $20 went pretty quickly, so I left Nyssa at the table and played some slots. Nothing was going well for me here so, after a while longer at the table Nyssa coloured up, having doubled her money. The rest of the day was spent gambling here and there. Nothing else hit and my money for the day dwindled away so it was time for me to head upstairs. We had decided to grab food from Triple 7 at our hotel for a late dinner and take it up to the room. I ordered at the bar and Nyssa headed upstairs while I waited for the food - battered green beans for Nyssa, potstickers to share and smothered potato chips for me (homemade chips with cheese, sour cream, bacon and green onions). The food there is always good, so it hit the spot nicely. I watched TV for a bit before bed. Nyssa headed back downstairs but didn't win anything.

We had watched the weather channel a bit while in the room a couple times and were amused by the coverage of the winter storm. Stations were commenting on "major accumulations" of snow that had been received and showing clips of show that didn't even come up to the curb. We found it very amusing.

January in Vegas 2014- Day 1

Okay, so it's a bit late. I procrastinate well. :)

Early morning flight. With Nyssa on crutches there was no way we were taking the bus to the airport, so cab it was. Very long line waiting to get into security, we were somewhere behind a tour group. Well, I was. Nyssa was given a wheelchair and was put at the beginning of line, though she had to wait for me. I feel bad for any guides the tour group would have on their travels, as they clearly had problems with basic instructions like "please line up close to the wall to allow room for people to walk by".

Through security pretty quickly. One carry on for Nyssa, my bag was checked. Nyssa had to have someone come over to her security, since she couldn't go through their machine. Didn't slow things down, though, they were pretty quick. Got to pre-board, though we were also pretty much the last people off the planes, too. Plane left on time. Stopover in Chicago, where they drove us from gate to gate in a cart. Passed on buying breakfast at the airport because we were waiting to buy food on the plane. Yes, you read that right, we wanted airplane food. United has great snack boxes and we look forward to them. $8.50 will get you olives, almonds, chocolate covered fruit, pita chips, 2 kinds of crackers, spreadable peppercorn cheese, hummus and bruschetta. This is not a snack, this is enough food for a meal.

Plane was completely full. And we were finally on a plane where they handed out the little boxes from the Cosmopolitan with freeplay, room discounts, free drinks, 2-4-1 buffets. And.... they ran out right before they got to Nyssa! But, didn't matter in the end. The beside said he didn't need his and gave it to me. I took the drink coupons out of both and gave those to him.

Landed in Vegas on time, delightful attendant with a wheelchair did all the pushing, took us to baggage claim and out to the shuttle. I did not know the protocol on tipping in such cases so just asked if she was allowed to take tips. She said yes so I gave her $5 for her trouble. She was just so pleasant that it made getting everything squared away so easy.

Arrived at Main Street Station in no time. Interesting side note: The front seats of the shuttle were occupied when we boarded, each by a single person in the double seat. They watched Nyssa struggle up the stairs on crutches and neither of them offered her their seat. I guess if there isn't clearly marked priority seating like on public transit then people will make the disabled walk past the front of the bus. Anyway, arrived at the hotel, checked in. First night already paid, so just one night left to pay for. Did that in cash and the security deposit as well. Mostly because my credit card was pretty much maxed out.

Went over to the Bell Desk before heading up to get a wheelchair for Nyssa. He gave her a choice of chairs, $17.50 a day for the rental. Easier than trying to get around on crutches for the duration. Almost forgot that our room rate came with $10/day food/beverage credit, and they forgot to give it to me at check in so got that from her. Dropped our stuff in the room, changed clothes, headed downstairs for some gambling.

Fairly early dinner at Market Street at the California. We both went for the chicken fried steak. Good, large portion and came with their salad bar. Couldn't finish it all. We were exhausted, so headed back to the room for a nap. I just couldn't wake up afterwards. Thank goodness for a call from someone from one of the Facebook Vegas groups we belong to. J's call was just what I needed to make me drag my sorry ass off the bed and down to the casino. We chatted for a bit, headed out to Fremont, stopped and waved at the camera in front of the Fremont in case anyone from our group was watching (J posted online to say we were doing it). Went to Walgreens for smokes and snacks. Stopped at the Fremont on our way back to do some gambling and had our first go at the new Willy Wonka machines. Lots of fun if you're getting bonuses, big money sucks if you're not - just like most other slot machines. J. was really nice and I'm glad we'd made plans to meet up.

We finally made our way back to Main Street Station. Nyssa stayed up late gambling but I went up earlier, watched a bit of TV and conked out. Early morning flights make for long days when there's a 3 hour time difference.

And while I'm ranting...

let's talk about customers. And I do see my share of idiots.

1. If you haven't paid for it, it doesn't belong to you. No, you can't eat the groceries before you pay for them. It's theft, plain and simple. What? Your kid was hungry? Gee, whose fault is that? Certainly not ours. You know enough not to shop when you're hungry, why not make sure the kids aren't hungry either? And no, I cannot charge you for a banana peel. You better have more in your cart because I'm going to pull one off the bunch and weigh it twice.

Yes, I know you intend to pay for everything. Any idea how often someone gets their entire order rung through only to find out they don't have their wallet, or debit card or whatever? Happens a lot more often than you think. You are not immune from the possibility that it could happen to you.

2. It's not rocket science, it's a debit machine. Yes, that little green button on the bottom is the "OK" button. It's the same colour on every single debit machine in the country, so unless you have been living under a rock there is not excuse for not knowing how to press "OK".

3. Regardless of whether or not you are actually signing for all your credit card purchases, you card is still supposed to be signed. Every now and then it happens that your chip won't work. This means I need a signature, which means I need to compare it to the one on the back of your card. No, this does not mean that you borrow my pen and sign it right then. This means you have to produce another piece of identification with a signature. What? You don't have anything else? You just left the house with your credit card in your pocket for a quick trip to the store? Did you drive here? Then where the hell is your license? Oh, you're driving here without it. Brilliant.

4. You want a delivery on this busiest day of the week? Sure, no problem. Did you have the courtesy to let the people in line behind know that this $300 order was a delivery and they would have to wait while it was packed before they could be served? I actually had a lady ask me why she should bother telling them. Um, let's see. Common courtesy comes to mind. Give them the choice of waiting while your order is packed or finding a line that might be faster. Why didn't I tell them? Um, because I'm not psychic. I didn't know until you told me 5 seconds ago.

5. Get off your damn phone in my line. I'm trying to ask you questions, like, did you need bags for your groceries or do you have your own? In our store, we're not obligated to bag your groceries for you. I have no problem whatsoever giving you a hand. But I will not bag them for you while you text or email. Put down the phone, pick up a bag and start doing it yourself. I will gladly give you a hand without you even asking. Got a huge order? Don't wait until I've finished ringing through $300 worth of groceries before you start putting stuff in bags. I am not allowed to help until all the grocery are through the cash. They time how fast I process a customer. That means from the time I ring the first item through to the time I hit the "total" button. I can take all the time I want to help you pack after that.

As a side note, I had two customers at my cash last week. They didn't know each other but both had smallish orders so were close enough together that second person could hear my conversation with the first lady. It went something like this:

First customer (female): It's so nice to have a cashier that's so friendly.
Second customer (male): She's always this nice, I make a point of getting in her line if she's working.
Her: You must really like your job.
Me: Actually no. I hate this job but it pays the bills.
Her: Really?
Me: Yeah, but it's not the customers fault, so that kind of thing shouldn't mean I do a crappy job or treat people badly.
Her: That's a really mature attitude.
Me: I'm 54, I better be mature by now.
The three of us laugh.
Him: And that's why I'm always in her line. There's always great conversation and she's really nice.
My boss walks by.
Me: Hey, Boss (removing his name to protect the innocent :D)
Boss: What?
Me to male customer: He's the one you should tell.
Me to boss: He says he makes a point of getting in my line.

My boss walks away happy that the customers are happy. My customers walk away having been mildly entertained in my line. And I had a bit of fun and made the afternoon go faster.

In fact, I DO hate my job. With every fibre of my being I hate my job. But the bills have to be paid and I do like to travel. People just aren't scrambling to hire those of us over 50.

Oh, and I've been known to threaten to take phones away from customers who insist on using them in my line. :D

So tired...

of reading about people comparing Jennifer Lawrence and Meryl Streep. A large number of them are totally dissing Jennifer Lawrence. I'm seeing a lot of "Well, she's no Meryl Streep, there's no comparison".

Give the kid a break. She's only 23, she hasn't got the decades of experience that Streep has. And to everyone who doesn't think Ms. Lawrence is a good actress - go watch Poker House and Winter's Bone. Then come back and we'll have chat.

Rising from the past - part 2

So, you may ask, what does all that crap from more than 10 years ago have to do with now? Well, it all started with Cassie posting an anti-bullying message last fall. Sinead just popped out of the woodwork with all kinds of accusations about how Cassie was involved with getting her removed from HPFGU and that Cassie had tried, via HPFGU, to get her kicked out of university.

All completely untrue. I have no idea what problem Sinead has with Cassie. I don't think they've ever met and just know each other from the early days of HPFGU, if at all.

Cassie was never a mod on any HPFGU group and though some of us knew her or had met her, she had no influence whatsoever on the running of our groups. She was just a regular group member, same as Sinead.

I met Cassie once, at lunch in NY with a bunch of other HPFGU folks. Just in case you wondered. I loved her fanfic back in the day. Read the first book she published. Didn't care for, didn't read the rest. Just so you know where I stand on that. Not a huge Cassie fan, so also not a rabid Cassie defender. Just don't like seeing bulls**t repeated as gospel truth.

In any event, Sinead is publicly denying ever hacking into anything. Says there was never any proof. Now insists that Cassie is behind everything. I'm sorry, I just can't figure out how her little brain somehow, a decade later, decided Cassie was connected to any of this. Stupid things, too, like saying Cassie provided HPFGU with their own chat transcripts to use against her to her university. Really? It was common knowledge that we archived every transcript.

What's interesting is how gullible people are. She's given no proof whatsoever about anything she posted and people are taking it as gospel. Of course, some people have no lives and nothing better to do than grabbing a cause, however unfounded, and running with it without ever checking to see if there's anything to it.

Has no one ever heard the expression "Don't believe everything you read on the internet"? Good lord, folks, grab a brain, check some facts, stop being mindless sheep and jumping on non-existent bandwagons.

On that note, I'm heading to bed. It's midnight, I'm tired enough to think I'm not making sense at this point, I work a crap shift tomorrow and need some sleep.

Make of it all what you will.

Rising from the past

Some people just don't know when to leave well enough alone, or to grow up and move on, or however you want to look at it. This one re-appeared last fall and is again making rounds online. Really? Get a life.


Harry Potter fandom, over a decade ago. Most of you know my involvement in the HP fandom, lots of you here on LJ are people I met via fandom in one way or another. This bit of past centers around the Harry Potter for GrownUps Yahoo Group, known as HPFGU for short.

The story begins waaaaay back in February of 2002. Someone posted on our off topic list (OTC for short) complaining about a couple of the HPFGU moderators and their being unfit to run the group. This person signed themselves "Mafalda Hopkirk". The next day she returned to reveal herself to be a list member named Sinead and apologised for the stupid thing she'd done. Said it was because "she was pissed off at a number of things over the weekend and decided to vent her anger". Yup, not even pissed off at the moderators, just at life in general. She had been a group member for just under a year. Nice enough, friendly in our Sunday chats. I met her once, while I was in Providence for a conference and we had dinner with another HPFGU member.

Sometime prior to this happening, one of the HPFGU moderators had his email hacked and got an email from Yahoo saying he'd changed his password. He hadn't. This happened around the time in fandom that Cassie Claire had problems with a stalker. This was, I think, in late 2001.

Okay, back to 2002. Within a couple days of the Malfalda Hopkirk message, the people tracking Cassie's stalker and John's email hacker made a connection and discovered that Sinead was the one who'd hacked John's account.

Sinead had a number of conversations via instant messaging with some of the HPFGU moderators, myself and Kelley among them. I wish I'd kept all mine but I think they got lost when an old computer bit the dust. In any event, Sinead confessed to Kelley via IM that she was the one who'd hacked John's account. Not alone, as we were to discover, but with the assistance of her boyfriend. It was his IP that traced back to the Mafalda posts and an email that John's hacker had sent him. Sinead then makes a goodbye post to OTC, saying she's been asked to leave the HPFGU groups. Untrue and publicly refuted by the mods in a post to OTC.

And it ended there, right?

Nope, not even close. Cue Sunday, St Patrick's Day. Yahoo is doing server maintenance. Our groups are inaccessible. We think the two are related. Again, no. By afternoon our groups are showing as "not existing". After much time on the phone with Yahoo, the groups are restored. Yahoo confirmed to us that our groups had been deliberately deleted by someone with that moderator ability. Our List Mom had also received an email verifying her change of password. She hadn't changed it.

Meantime, Sinead is still showing up in Sunday chats, much to everyone's growing frustration. The group found a new chatroom that allowed us to remove people and it required sending an email to specified address in order to get in. This also allowed us to track IPs and we made some connections with one that led to a friend of Sinead's who'd also been party to the hacking of our List Mom's account and the deleting of the group. Because we kept records of IPs and such we were then able to take steps to end things. The friend of Sinead's was a teen, so his mother was contacted by our List Mom. Since Sinead has used her school account at Boston University for all this, we lodge a complaint with them.

Never heard from either of them again in relation to HPFGU.

But.... to be continued.


Movies 33 - 42

33. Key Largo - you can't go wrong with Bogey and Bacall

34. I Am You

35. Possession

36. The Anna Nicole Story

37. We Will Remember Them

38. Song of Love

39. Cameraman: The Life and Work of Jack Cardiff

40. Blank City

41. California Suite

42. Oslo, August 31st

Up next? Sharknado. Yes, exactly what it sounds like. Should be so bad that it's entertaining.


alan, Rude

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February 2014



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