Favorite Flickr of the Day

Posted by: Andee / Category: ,

tiny muffins was the creator of these photos... I love them for many reasons...

First, what a cute idea to decorate your tree with something like this! Second, I could make this myself... maybe. Finally, it's a beautiful photo and makes me smile and be happy the holidays are here. Love it!

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BYU Posters

Posted by: Andee / Category: ,

No, these posters are not for some private elementary school, they are for grown adults at Brigham Young University. This pretty much proves my point that the church doesn't treat people like the adults they are... instead they act like the universal parent over the flock. I couldn't resist showing these... classic example.

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MySpace Tragedy

Posted by: Andee / Category:

His name was Josh Evans. He was 16 years old. And he was hot.

"Mom! Mom! Mom! Look at him!" Tina Meier recalls her daughter saying.

Josh had contacted Megan Meier through her MySpace page and wanted to be added as a friend.

Yes, he's cute, Tina Meier told her daughter. "Do you know who he is?"

"No, but look at him! He's hot! Please, please, can I add him?"

Mom said yes. And for six weeks Megan and Josh - under Tina's watchful eye - became acquainted in the virtual world of MySpace.

Josh said he was born in Florida and recently had moved to O'Fallon. He was homeschooled. He played the guitar and drums.

Megan Meier (13)

He was from a broken home: "when i was 7 my dad left me and my mom and my older brother and my newborn brother 3 boys god i know poor mom yeah she had such a hard time when we were younger finding work to pay for us after he loeft."

As for 13-year-old Megan, of Dardenne Prairie, this is how she expressed who she was:

M is for Modern

E is for Enthusiastic

G is for Goofy

A is for Alluring

N is for Neglected.

She loved swimming, boating, fishing, dogs, rap music and boys. But her life had not always been easy, her mother says.

She was heavy and for years had tried to lose weight. She had attention deficit disorder and battled depression. Back in third grade she had talked about suicide, Tina says, and ever since had seen a therapist.

But things were going exceptionally well. She had shed 20 pounds, getting down to 175. She was 5 foot 5½ inches tall.

She had just started eighth grade at a new school, Immaculate Conception, in Dardenne Prairie, where she was on the volleyball team. She had attended Fort Zumwalt public schools before that.

Amid all these positives, Tina says, her daughter decided to end a friendship with a girlfriend who lived down the street from them. The girls had spent much of seventh grade alternating between being friends and, the next day, not being friends, Tina says.

Part of the reason for Megan's rosy outlook was Josh, Tina says. After school, Megan would rush to the computer.

"Megan had a lifelong struggle with weight and self-esteem," Tina says. "And now she finally had a boy who she thought really thought she was pretty."

It did seem odd, Tina says, that Josh never asked for Megan's phone number. And when Megan asked for his, she says, Josh said he didn't have a cell and his mother did not yet have a landline.

And then on Sunday, Oct. 15, 2006, Megan received a puzzling and disturbing message from Josh. Tina recalls that it said: "I don't know if I want to be friends with you anymore because I've heard that you are not very nice to your friends."

Frantic, Megan shot back: "What are you talking about?"


Tina Meier was wary of the cyber-world of MySpace and its 70 million users. People are not always who they say they are.

Tina knew firsthand. Megan and the girl down the block, the former friend, once had created a fake MySpace account, using the photo of a good-looking girl as a way to talk to boys online, Tina says. When Tina found out, she ended Megan's access.

MySpace has rules. A lot of them. There are nine pages of terms and conditions. The long list of prohibited content includes sexual material. And users must be at least 14.

"Are you joking?" Tina asks. "There are fifth-grade girls who have MySpace accounts."

As for sexual content, Tina says, most parents have no clue how much there is. And Megan wasn't 14 when she opened her account. To join, you are asked your age but there is no check. The accounts are free.

As Megan's 14th birthday approached, she pleaded for her mom to give her another chance on MySpace, and Tina relented.

She told Megan she would be all over this account, monitoring it. Megan didn't always make good choices because of her ADD, Tina says. And this time, Megan's page would be set to private and only Mom and Dad would have the password.


Monday, Oct. 16, 2006, was a rainy, bleak day. At school, Megan had handed out invitations to her upcoming birthday party and when she got home she asked her mother to log on to MySpace to see if Josh had responded.

Why did he suddenly think she was mean? Who had he been talking to?

Tina signed on. But she was in a hurry. She had to take her younger daughter, Allison, to the orthodontist.

Before Tina could get out the door it was clear Megan was upset. Josh still was sending troubling messages. And he apparently had shared some of Megan's messages with others.

Tina recalled telling Megan to sign off.

"I will Mom," Megan said. "Let me finish up."

Tina was pressed for time. She had to go. But once at the orthodontist's office she called Megan: Did you sign off?

"No, Mom. They are all being so mean to me."

"You are not listening to me, Megan! Sign off, now!"

Fifteen minutes later, Megan called her mother. By now Megan was in tears.

"They are posting bulletins about me." A bulletin is like a survey. "Megan Meier is a slut. Megan Meier is fat."

Megan was sobbing hysterically. Tina was furious that she had not signed off.

Once Tina returned home she rushed into the basement where the computer was. Tina was shocked at the vulgar language her daughter was firing back at people.

"I am so aggravated at you for doing this!" she told Megan.

Megan ran from the computer and left, but not without first telling Tina, "You're supposed to be my mom! You're supposed to be on my side!"

On the stairway leading to her second-story bedroom, Megan ran into her father, Ron.

"I grabbed her as she tried to go by," Ron says. "She told me that some kids were saying horrible stuff about her and she didn't understand why. I told her it's OK. I told her that they obviously don't know her. And that it would be fine."

Megan went to her room and Ron went downstairs to the kitchen, where he and Tina talked about what had happened, the MySpace account, and made dinner.

Twenty minutes later, Tina suddenly froze in mid-sentence.

"I had this God-awful feeling and I ran up into her room and she had hung herself in the closet."

Megan Taylor Meier died the next day, three weeks before her 14th birthday.

Later that day, Ron opened his daughter's MySpace account and viewed what he believes to be the final message Megan saw - one the FBI would be unable to retrieve from the hard drive.

It was from Josh and, according to Ron's best recollection, it said, "Everybody in O'Fallon knows how you are. You are a bad person and everybody hates you. Have a shitty rest of your life. The world would be a better place without you."


Tina and Ron saw a grief counselor. Tina went to a couple of Parents After Loss of Suicide meetings, as well.

They tried to message Josh Evans, to let him know the deadly power of mean words. But his MySpace account had been deleted.

The day after Megan's death, they went down the street to comfort the family of the girl who had once been Megan's friend. They let the girl and her family know that although she and Megan had their ups and down, Megan valued her friendship.

They also attended the girl's birthday party, although Ron had to leave when it came time to sing "Happy Birthday." The Meiers went to the father's 50th birthday celebration. In addition, the Meiers stored a foosball table, a Christmas gift, for that family.

Six weeks after Megan died, on a Saturday morning, a neighbor down the street, a different neighbor, one they didn't know well, called and insisted that they meet that morning at a counselor's office in northern O'Fallon.

The woman would not provide details. Ron and Tina went. Their grief counselor was there. As well as a counselor from Fort Zumwalt West Middle School.

The neighbor from down the street, a single mom with a daughter the same age as Megan, informed the Meiers that Josh Evans never existed.

She told the Meiers that Josh Evans was created by adults, a family on their block. These adults, she told the Meiers, were the parents of Megan's former girlfriend, the one with whom she had a falling out. These were the people who'd asked the Meiers to store their foosball table.

The single mother, for this story, requested that her name not be used. She said her daughter, who had carpooled with the family that was involved in creating the phony MySpace account, had the password to the Josh Evans account and had sent one message - the one Megan received (and later retrieved off the hard drive) the night before she took her life.

"She had been encouraged to join in the joke," the single mother said.

The single mother said her daughter feels the guilt of not saying something sooner and for writing that message. Her daughter didn't speak out sooner because she'd known the other family for years and thought that what they were doing must be OK because, after all, they were trusted adults.

On the night the ambulance came for Megan, the single mother said, before it left the Meiers' house her daughter received a call. It was the woman behind the creation of the Josh Evans account. She had called to tell the girl that something had happened to Megan and advised the girl not to mention the MySpace account.


The Meiers went home and tore into the foosball table.

Tina used an ax and Ron a sledgehammer. They put the pieces in Ron's pickup and dumped them in their neighbor's driveway. Tina spray painted "Merry Christmas" on the box.

According to Tina, Megan had gone on vacations with this family. They knew how she struggled with depression, that she took medication.

"I know that they did not physically come up to our house and tie a belt around her neck," Tina says. "But when adults are involved and continue to screw with a 13-year-old - with or without mental problems - it is absolutely vile.

"She wanted to get Megan to feel like she was liked by a boy and let everyone know this was a false MySpace and have everyone laugh at her.

"I don't feel their intentions were for her to kill herself. But that's how it ended."


That same day, the family down the street tried to talk to the Meiers. Ron asked friends to convince them to leave before he physically harmed them.

In a letter dated Nov. 30, 2006, the family tells Ron and Tina, "We are sorry for the extreme pain you are going through and can only imagine how difficult it must be. We have every compassion for you and your family."

The Suburban Journals have decided not to name the family out of consideration for their teenage daughter.

The mother declined comment.

"I have been advised not to give out any information and I apologize for that," she says. "I would love to sit here and talk to you about it but I can't."

She was informed that without her direct comment the newspaper would rely heavily on the police report she filed with the St. Charles County Sheriff's Department regarding the destroyed foosball table.

"I will tell you that the police report is totally wrong," the mother said. "We have worked on getting that changed. I would just be very careful about what you write."

Lt. Craig McGuire, spokesman for the sheriff's department, said he is unaware of anyone contacting the department to alter the report.

"We stand behind the report as written," McGuire says. "There was no supplement to it. What is in the report is what we believe she told us."

The police report - without using the mother's name - states:

"(She) stated in the months leading up Meier's daughter's suicide, she instigated and monitored a 'my space' account which was created for the sole purpose of communicating with Meier's daughter.

"(She) said she, with the help of temporary employee named ------ constructed a profile of 'good looking' male on 'my space' in order to 'find out what Megan (Meier's daughter) was saying on-line' about her daughter. (She) explained the communication between the fake male profile and Megan was aimed at gaining Megan's confidence and finding out what Megan felt about her daughter and other people.

"(She) stated she, her daughter and (the temporary employee) all typed, read and monitored the communication between the fake male profile and Megan …..

"According to (her) 'somehow' other 'my space' users were able to access the fake male profile and Megan found out she had been duped. (She) stated she knew 'arguments' had broken out between Megan and others on 'my space.' (She) felt this incident contributed to Megan's suicide, but she did not feel 'as guilty' because at the funeral she found out 'Megan had tried to commit suicide before.'"

Tina says her daughter died thinking Josh was real and that she never before attempted suicide.

"She was the happiest she had ever been in her life," Ron says.

After years of wearing braces, Megan was scheduled to have them removed the day she died. And she was looking forward to her birthday party.

"She and her mom went shopping and bought a new dress," Ron says. "She wanted to make this grand entrance with me carrying her down the stairs. I never got to see her in that dress until the funeral."


It does not appear that there will be criminal charges filed in connection with Megan's death.

"We did not have a charge to fit it," McGuire says. "I don't know that anybody can sit down and say, 'This is why this young girl took her life.'"

The Meiers say the matter also was investigated by the FBI, which analyzed the family computer and conducted interviews. Ron said a stumbling block is that the FBI was unable to retrieve the electronic messages from Megan's final day, including that final message that only Ron saw.

The Meiers do not plan to file a civil lawsuit. Here's what they want: They want the law changed, state or federal, so that what happened to Megan - at the hands of an adult - is a crime.


The Meiers are divorcing. Ron says Tina was as vigilant as a parent could be in monitoring Megan on MySpace. Yet she blames herself.

"I have this awful, horrible guilt and this I can never change," she said. "Ever."

Ron struggles daily with the loss of a daughter who, no matter how low she felt, tried to make others laugh and feel a little bit better.

He has difficulty maintaining focus and has kept his job as a tool and die maker through the grace and understanding of his employer, he says. His emotions remain jagged, on edge.

Christine Buckles lives in the same Waterford Crossing subdivision. In her view, everyone in the subdivision knows of Megan's death, but few know of the other family's involvement.

Tina says she and Ron have dissuaded angry friends and family members from vandalizing the other home for one, and only one, reason.

"The police will think we did it," Tina says.

Ron faces a misdemeanor charge of property damage. He is accused of driving his truck across the lawn of the family down the street, doing $1,000 in damage, in March. A security camera the neighbors installed on their home allegedly caught him.

It was Tina, a real estate agent, who helped the other family purchase their home on the same block 2½ years ago.

"I just wish they would go away, move," Ron says.

Vicki Dunn, Tina's aunt, last month placed signs in and near the neighborhood on the anniversary of Megan's death.

They read: "Justice for Megan Meier," "Call the St. Charles County Prosecuting Attorney," and "MySpace Impersonator in Your Neighborhood."

On the window outside Megan's room is an ornamental angel that Ron turns on almost every night. Inside are pictures of boys, posters of Usher, Beyonce and on the dresser a tube of instant bronzer.

"She was all about getting a tan," Ron says.

He has placed the doors back on the closet. Megan had them off.

If only she had waited, talked to someone, or just made it to dinner, then through the evening, and then on to the beginning of a new day in what could have been a remarkable life.

If she had, he says, there is no doubt she would have chosen to live. Instead, there is so much pain.

"She never would have wanted to see her parents divorce," Ron says.

Ultimately, it was Megan's choice to do what she did, he says. "But it was like someone handed her a loaded gun."

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Posted by: Andee / Category:

The accident above happened fairly recently - winter 2005 or 2006. The plane slid off the runway in the snow. A six year-old passenger in one of the cars on the street was killed.

Dark Roasted Blend put together some of the best airplane crash photos... check it out!

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Jellyfish Aquarium

Posted by: Andee / Category: ,

A huge hit in Japan, the Aquapict Jellyfish aquarium shows beautiful color-changing jellyfish swimming as they do in the deep sea, but none of them are real!


Made with highly-realistic silicone, the Aquapict jellyfish swim and change color subtly with the five-color LED lighting system (red, yellow, green, blue, and purple). They move by a slow current created in the tank that does not have an obvious flow or bubbles that make it look fake. It looks unbelievably real and beautiful! Aquapict is perfect for bedrooms, desks, offices, restaurants, or anywhere people like to relax.

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Flying Spaghetti Monster!

Posted by: Andee / Category:

Fossil Evidence of the Flying Spaghetti Monster!

Scientists have discovered the first fossilized evidence of the Flying Spaghetti Monster! Either that or some fossilized jellyfish from the Middle Cambrian (about 500 million years ago).

Oh, my faith tells me it's the spaghetti monster!!!

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Drink Away The Art

Posted by: Andee / Category:

Forget about wandering through an art gallery and wondering if you’re the only one who has no idea what anything means. Hannes Broecker has brilliantly invited the cultural elite to grab a glass at an exhibition in Dresden, Germany, and drink away the art.

Regardless of what we do or do not understand about art, we can all agree, it stimulates our senses. Broecker has aroused our sense of taste (not to mention eliminated the need of elbowing our way to the bar) by hanging flat, glass containers with a variety of cocktails in the exhibition space. As the night progressed, the levels of the multi-coloured infusions diminished. By the end of the event, the art, itself, ran dry, and empty drinking glasses were returned to where they were originally placed. By Andrew J Wiener.

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Favorite Flickr of the Day

Posted by: Andee / Category:

captured emotion

Swan on the Danube

Photos by: Niklens

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Make a Wish and Give Kids the World

Posted by: Andee / Category: ,

The Holiday Season is fast approaching, and many families are preparing to do their shopping for gifts in the next few weeks. I am still shocked that certain stores opened at 4 a.m., and people were lining up at the door to shop! Please... let me sleep! I am doing all my shopping online this year!

This is also the time for gifts for people you don't know... people you never get to meet. For many years I signed checks to charity and felt good about it, but recently I had the chance to see how the money that is collected helps families in need.

I was working at Universal Orlando at the Barney Show. If you don't have kids, you might not realize that Barney the purple dinosaur has a fantastic attraction at Universal, and even grown adults have been known to love the show. You should check it out if you are in the area!

I was the first of my co-workers to arrive one day, and I greeted a family of 3 as they walked to the giant Barney fountain. Mom was busy reading a park map, and Dad was pushing his son in a wheelchair they rented at the front of the park. I waved at them and smiled and the little boy waved back at me... I liked him right away, he was a friendly little guy.

The family made their way closer to me and I said, "Good Morning, how are you?" The little boy introduced himself as Nathan, as Mom and Dad smiled on. I crouched down to shake his hand and noticed a pink button on his shirt that mentioned he was on a "Make a Wish" trip. My co-workers and I would see lots of families on trips like these, and we made sure they had a fantastic time while at our particular attraction... but this was different because Nathan's wish was to meet Barney. As soon as I realized his wish was to meet Barney, I promised myself that I would do everything in my power to make sure he had the time of his life.

I led the family to Barney's backyard playground and gave them a tour of the place. I made sure to tell Nathan that Barney was expecting him, and that if he needed anything at all to let me know. Nathan looked up at his Mom and Dad in awe, smiled, and walked off to play on his own for a little bit.

I asked Nathan's Mom and Dad how they were doing, and how their trip was so far... they told me that they landed in Orlando the night before, and this was their first stop. Nathan had cancer, and there wasn't much more doctors could do to help him. I shared with them that I lost my Dad to cancer a few years before, and while I didn't know what it was like to see my own child go through the illness, I did know the toll it takes on the patient and the family. I gave them a big hug and told them I would be right back.

I borrowed the radio from my team lead and called my supervisor. I told her the situation, and got permission to pull off some extraordinary things for the show. First, I went to the gift shop and picked up a Barney balloon, T-Shirt, and stuffed dinosaurs to represent Barney, B.J. and Baby Bop. I took the items backstage and explained to the entertainment crew what I had planned and they loved the idea.

I made my way back to the family just in time to tell them to look for me when they entered the theater. When the time came and the doors opened, I waved wildly for Nathan and he smiled and waved back to me... then I escorted them to their front row seats. I told Nathan that Barney wanted him to have the best seats in the house (and that was true... Barney gave me strict orders)! Nathan got out of his wheelchair slowly and sat down on the wooden bench. I told the family where I would be if they needed me, and left so they could enjoy the show.

During the show, Nathan jumped, danced, sang... this was a kid who barely had any energy but forgot all that for just a little while. He had the time of his life, and his Mom and Dad clapped along, smiled and cried.

After the show they started to get ready to leave, and I hurried over to them. I looked over at Nathan and asked him if he liked the show, and he did... then I ask him if he felt like hanging out for a little while... I didn't tell him why, but I asked them to wait while everyone else left the theater and the doors closed.

Nathan's parents were looking around and wondering what was going on, and I explained that Barney and his dinosaur friends wanted to meet their biggest fan. I asked his Mom and Dad if I could hold their video camera for them while Barney, B.J., and Baby Bop made their way into the theater. The parents were crying immediately and so was everyone else in the room. Nathan was shy at first, but made his way over for hugs and pictures. Barney motioned for them to stand still for a minutes and he hopped over to a bench where we had hidden Nathan's gifts. My supervisor brought in the giant Barney balloon and handed it to Nathan. His smile was so big.

Soon it was time for the dinosaurs to get ready for their next show, and I explained that they had front row seats for the entire day, and they came for all 5 shows. Nathan even helped me escort other guests and became my special helper. He loved the idea that he was working for Barney's show.

When the last show was over, everyone working that day gave the family a huge hug, and told them how much they meant to us.

4 months later I got an email from Nathan's Mom and she had the bad news that Nathan had passed away after a long fight. He was buried with his Barney T-shirt and his stuffed dinosaurs that meant so much to him. My heart ached for Nathan's Mom and Dad, and for him. He was a wonderful kid... smart, funny, outgoing, and above all loving. He said thank you so many times that day, but I have to thank him... he taught me that bad things happen, but they don't have to hurt your spirit.

If you are thinking about donating to certain charities, (and please believe me... they are all worthy) please consider the Make a Wish Foundation and the Give Kids the World Foundation. These groups give kids the chance to forget their health for a little while and just be kids... and I don't think there is any better gift you can give.

Thanks for considering it, and I wish everyone who reads my blog a Happy Holiday.

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Favorite Flickr of the Day

Posted by: Andee / Category: ,


A Slippery Sidewalk

Click the photo to see more of _uncommon's work!

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Mayor won't resign despite pleading guilty to indecency

Posted by: Andee / Category:

POTEET, Texas (AP) -- The mayor of this Texas town pleaded guilty to indecent conduct toward two girls and is barred from going to City Hall because it is near a youth center. But he still doesn't plan to resign.

Mayor Lino Donato entered the pleas October 31 to three counts of indecency, cutting short a trial on accusations that he exposed himself to two girls between 1996 and 2000 and improperly touched one of them.

He planned to resign at a meeting a week later, but he changed his mind, saying he wasn't guilty.

As a registered sex offender, Donato is required to stay more than 1,000 feet from places where children congregate, and the Atascosa Boxing Club and Youth Center is less than that distance from City Hall, City Attorney Frank Garza said. Probation officers checked the distance with a tape measure, officials said.

The mayor did not attend Tuesday's council meeting, saying it was the first meeting he's missed in five years. But Donato reiterated Wednesday that he wouldn't resign.

His term doesn't expire until May 2009. He can't be forced from office because he received "deferred adjudication" of his case, which technically isn't a conviction. There's also no rule in Poteet requiring a mayor to attend meetings, Garza said.

Poteet, population around 3,500, is about 30 miles south of San Antonio in South Texas.

"It's a huge issue," said former assistant district attorney Brandon Hudson. "The mayor of the city cannot attend city business because of his status as a registered sex offender."

Councilman Larry Cantu said the mayor needs to resign, although the council can maintain a quorum if Donato misses the meetings.

"The people elected us to conduct business for the city," Cantu said. "It's not right for the citizens of Poteet."

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Yes, this is real.

Posted by: Andee / Category:

Sorry, I have no words.

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What's up with this??

Posted by: Andee / Category: ,

Someone noticed something on the Thanksgiving Charlie Brown special. Wow.

Was just griping about these specials tonight, how the message seems to be, "Boys = GOOD, Girls = BAD," because the female characters are so universally awful, when this scene happened and stopped me in my tracks.

What is going on here with Franklin? FOUR people on one side of the table, and Franklin over there by himself in the beach chair? What the--?

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Did religious fast, prophecy have link to strange death?

Posted by: Andee / Category:

Did religious fast, prophecy have link to strange death?

Inquest probes Aurora pastor's statement, hospital minister's tip and Missouri church found online

November 15, 2007

A Kane County coroner's inquest did little to clear up the strange death of 28-year-old Gloria Hahn.

The former East Aurora High School teacher died in July at the end of a two-week fast she undertook for reasons that are, at best, unclear.

Since then, friends and co-workers have wondered what killed the popular art teacher.

The mystery only deepened after Wednesday's inquest, when the jury heard stories about fasting, prophecies and the International House of Prayer.

At 2 a.m. on July 21, Hahn was found on her back at the front door of her family's house in the 1700 block of Liberty Street. Paramedics were called, and she was taken to Rush-Copley Medical Center in Aurora, where she never recovered.

An autopsy revealed she had more than four times the maximum therapeutic level of valporic acid in her system -- a substance commonly found in anti-depression medications.

Kane County Deputy Coroner Lisa Gilbert said it's not clear what those levels mean. It could be signs of an overdose, or the medicine could have accumulated in her body, which did not metabolize the acid because of the fasting.

"Her system after two weeks is starting to shut down," Gilbert said. "It's starting to go into organ failure."

Hahn's official cause of death was pneumonia that had invaded the lungs in her malnourished 5-foot-5, 115-pound body.

After a long discussion, the coroner's jury ruled Hahn's death an accident.

But after Hahn died, a minister from Rush-Copley called the coroner's office. According to Gilbert, the hospital minister said the family was telling him information he thought might be relevant to the death investigation.

The hospital minister said about two years ago an Aurora pastor told Hahn that a prophecy declared she would marry his son but that she had to fast for two weeks, Gilbert testified. At the end of that two weeks, the pastor said marriage was not in the prophecy after all, Gilberts testified.

In 2006, Hahn left her alma mater and began worshiping at the International House of Prayer, a Kansas City, Mo., church she found online, according to her mother. The organization is known for a 24-hour prayer room, where hundreds sing, fast and study the Bible.

According to Gilbert, the family lost contact with Hahn during that time. Hahn told friends she often slept during the day so she could pray through the night.

At some point while she was in Kansas City, the Aurora pastor contacted Hahn again, Gilbert said. Again, the pastor -- who was not named at the inquest -- told Hahn a prophecy said she would marry his son, but she had to fast for two weeks.

During that fast, in which Hahn ingested only water, her family somehow became aware Hahn's health was failing, Gilbert said. Hahn's mother went to Kansas City and brought her back to Aurora. Hahn died a few days later.

Hahn's mother, Taeim, is a Korean native who speaks broken English. After the inquest, she said she felt her daughter's death was God's work.

"I said OK to God," she said. "If you take her, that's OK, but it seemed like she had work to do. She had a lot of potential, and I miss it.

"She's so beautiful, so beautiful. Very pretty girl. I say that 10 times daily."

Taeim did not know who had told the hospital about the prophecies.

"Maybe they want to make some gossip," she said. "Before she was dead, she was very happy. I never suspect anything to happen."

Since her daughter's death, Taeim has received hundreds of messages from Hahn's co-workers, friends and college classmates.

"I can't send a thank-you note to every person," Taeim said, crying. "I just bless every person."

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Ice cream parlor robbed with stapler

Posted by: Andee / Category:

By KENNETH HART - The Independent
ASHLAND The Duct Tape Bandit? He’s so yesterday.

Do the math. Do the homework.

And meet his heir apparent — the Staple Gun Stickup Man.

In the most recent local example of what can only be described as criminal stupidity, police say that an Ashland man on Tuesday held up an ice cream parlor with a decidedly nonlethal weapon:

A chrome-plated stapler.

Gerald A. Rocchi, 32, allegedly walked into The Ice Cream Shop, 713 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., about 6:40 p.m., his face covered with a ski mask, brandished the stapler and demanded money, Ashland Police Department Capt. Don Petrella said.

It’s not known whether the robber had plans to fire projectiles with the stapler, or to use it as a blunt instrument if his demand wasn’t met.

Because of its chrome finish, the stapler could have conceivably been mistaken it for a handgun “if someone didn’t get a good look at it,” Petrella said.

Store employees complied with the robber, forking over about $175 from the register, according to Petrella.

Unlike Kasey Kazee, the accused Duct Tape Bandit, Rocchi was able to make a successful getaway. He ran into the neighboring Ponderosa steakhouse, went into a restroom and changed clothes, then fled to a house on 10th Street, Petrella said.

However, several witnesses saw Rocchi fleeing and were able to provide responding officers with information on his direction of travel.

Officers surrounded the 10th Street house where Rocchi had holed up. He refused their orders to come out, Petrella said.

Police negotiated with Rocchi for about 45 minutes before he finally agreed to surrender, he said.

Officers searched the house and found the money from The Ice Cream Shop heist, along with the stapler and the ski mask, Petrella said.

Additionally, police located evidence at the scene linking Rocchi with a holdup that occurred Thursday at Wendy’s in the Midtown Mall, Petrella said. He declined to say what that evidence was.

It’s believed that Rocchi also used a staple gun in the earlier heist, Petrella said.

Rocchi told police he lived in the 2100 block of Winchester Avenue, but he had actually been living in the 10th Street house, Petrella said.

Rocchi had not been charged in the Wendy’s heist as of Wednesday. He was being held in the Boyd County Detention Center on a single count of first-degree robbery.

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Posted by: Andee / Category:

Orlando prep school sues mother for criticizing it on blog

The New School of Orlando calls comments defamatory, libelous

Sonjia McSween

Unhappy with her daughter's private school, Sonjia McSween created a blog to warn other parents.

The unexpected result: The New School of Orlando Inc. slapped McSween with a defamation lawsuit to stop her from publishing and talking about the school and force McSween to pay damages.

Some say it's a case of censorship. Others say First Amendment rights have nothing to do with it.

"Lots of people, private and public, can have thin skins," said Rebecca Jeschke, spokeswoman for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which advocates digital free-speech rights and maintains a legal guide for bloggers. "People need to get used to this new world where everyone has a soapbox and can use it."

The Internet is what gives the New School case a new dimension.

"It's one thing for a disgruntled parent to go around bad-mouthing you to her small group of friends," said Lyrissa Lidsky, a law professor at the University of Florida whose expertise includes First Amendment and Internet-speech law. "It's another to bad-mouth you to the world at large on the Internet."

Also known as New School Preparatory, the kindergarten-through-eighth grade school alleges that McSween deliberately told unflattering lies, causing enrollment to drop. It alleges defamation, libel, slander and interference with business relations.

McSween contends that she was just sharing what happened to her and her daughter, Logan.

"When I created this Web site, I did not do it with malice," said McSween, 28, a single mother who lives in west Orange County. "I created it with disappointment about my experience."

David Simmons, an Orlando attorney representing New School, said the lawsuit, filed in late October, was prompted by McSween's postings suggesting a possible kickback scheme between a psychologist and the school. Simmons described that allegation as "ludicrous" and "damaging."

"We've only asked that she tell the truth if she's going to make any kind of statements," Simmons said. "No one should be able to hide under the cloak of freedom of speech by making false statements."

The problem started after Logan, now 7, began kindergarten at New School Preparatory in 2005. She withdrew in January and attends another private school. McSween said she spent thousands on tuition, books and registration for the school to "mistreat" her daughter.

"My daughter went from being a happy child to a child who was scared to make a mistake because she was not perfect," McSween said.

The lawsuit says McSween posted "false and otherwise libelous remarks" alleging that students at the Marks Street school were belittled, exposed to "extreme stress" and "dictatorial conditions." She further alleged that the school told parents how to run their homes and threatened parents for speaking negatively about New School Preparatory.

Finally, McSween accused the school of rejecting lower-income students, labeling single parents as "problem families" and shunning mixed-race and disabled children, according to the suit.

The 120-student school, founded in 1995 and run by Morris and Karen Sorin, a husband-and-wife team of educators, denies those claims. Karen Sorin referred questions to her attorneys.

Lawrence Walters, an Altamonte Springs First Amendment lawyer unfamiliar with the New School case, said lawsuits often are designed to stifle criticism by forcing defendants to back down to avoid expensive litigation.

Land developers, for example, have filed actions known as "strategic lawsuits against public participation" -- or SLAPP -- to stop environmental activists or neighborhood groups trying to block a project.

Several legal experts, however, said it's unusual for a school to sue a parent over speech.

"We've seen efforts by larger companies and business entities directed at critics," Walters said. "The idea is if we can hit them with a defamation action, maybe they'll stop criticizing."

Daniel O'Malley, a partner with Simmons' firm of deBeaubien, Knight, Simmons, Mantzaris & Neal, said that's not what the New School case is about.

"Of course we want her to stop because of the damage suffered by my client. . . . We're not talking about opinion here."

McSween plans to meet with a lawyer Tuesday.

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Flapjack Jesus

Posted by: Andee / Category:

By STEPHEN NOHLGREN, Times Staff Writer
Published November 20, 2007

The grainy image emerged from a batch of Great Value pancake mix, bought at Wal-Mart for $1.25 - a suitably humble beginning for a wanna-be apparition.

Port St. Lucie resident Dana O'Kane said she discerned the outline of Jesus and Mary in the mottled pancake and took it as a reassuring sign from her recently departed father.

Her mother, the cook, thought it looked more like a bedouin and Santa Claus.

An Alabama woman, who wanted a gag gift for her soldier-husband about to be deployed to Iraq, bid $338 for it on eBay, only to have the deal fall through.

Finally on Saturday night, an Illinois man claimed it for $29.

Nobody's claiming loaves and fishes here, but it's been an eventful two weeks for a slightly deteriorating breakfast staple.

* * *

Dana O'Kane, 46, suffers from dystonia, a movement disorder similar to Parkinson's disease. She twitches uncontrollably and can't work outside the home, she says. The Social Security Administration has rejected her disability claim, so she sells donated items on eBay to make a living.

Two weeks ago, her mother was about to apply chocolate powder to a batch of pancakes when she noticed headlike shapes at the edge of one.

Her mother, though, did not want to be associated publicly with a Jesus pancake. But she did telephone her daughter, who lives nearby, to come for a viewing.

O'Kane said a halo over one figure tipped her off.

"I know it's Jesus and Mary," she said. "It's unmistakable."

She also hopes her father is sending her a message from beyond. She has already noticed other signals since he died in September, she says: doors closing by themselves, a pine cone rolling off her stove, a family friend who felt an unseen hand squeezing his shoulder.

Maybe her dystonia is going to clear up.

Why put such a precious omen on eBay?

"The whole reason is to come a full circle," she said. "It may open a door for somebody. It may tell somebody 'God bless you.'"

Her mother offered a more down-to-earth reason. She kept the pancake on a paper plate on her counter. If someone didn't buy it soon, it was going to fall apart.

* * *

Frying pans, eBay and spectral images have created amusement and disdain since 2004, when an online gambling casino paid $28,000 for a Virgin Mary grilled cheese sandwich.

Though that pop culture icon may have rewarded its buyer with a spate of free publicity, subsequent offerings haven't enjoyed such financial success.

St. Petersburg resident Rosalie Lawson found no takers two years ago for a potato chip that resembled her favorite savior. She still keeps it in a safe-deposit box, "just for fun."

An Internet search of "Jesus Pancakes" yields several recent sightings, including one that looks suspiciously like Sonny Bono.

Spinoffs include "the original JesusPan" at two for $29.95, which transfers a bearded image etched on its bottom to food cooked in the pan.

Jennifer Herring, 28, of Montgomery harbored no illusion of divine intercession early last week when she bid on O'Kane's pancake.

Her husband, an Air Force communications officer, was about to ship out to Iraq. She figured he would get a few laughs if she could present it to him as a talisman, she said last week. "We would call it St. Pancake the Protector."

She was willing to pay up to $150, she said, but noticed that someone with no history on eBay was bidding up the price. She figured it was the seller, using a bogus eBay account.

She got mad and kept bidding, not really intending to buy.

"It was a combination of giving a party and alcohol. I was just messing around."

The seller also noticed what looked like bogus bidders. O'Kane said she rejected the high bid of $430, because the buyer had no history on eBay, and accepted Herring's bid of $338.

News of the quirky sale made national news, even as the two women exchanged acrimonious e-mails.

Herring accused O'Kane of manipulating the sale and refused to pay. O'Kane said she was disgusted by bogus bidders and dozens of insulting e-mails.

Neither woman filed a complaint with eBay, and O'Kane re-posted the pancake Thursday.

Again, bidders with no eBay history showed up, one offering $100, another $1,000. When the auction ended Saturday night, O'Kane accepted a $29 bid by Stephen Kosmach of Wood Dale, Ill., a suburb of Chicago.

O'Kane says she's going to donate the money to the Dystonia Foundation.

Kosmach could not be reached, but his wife, Diana, said Monday the purchase probably related to his offbeat sense of humor.

"I'm sure he's going to display it somewhere."

And she swears he wasn't going to bid a dime over $30.

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Sunday Secrets (on a Wednesday)

Posted by: Andee / Category:

The new secrets have been added on postsecret.com! Check 'em out!

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Oprah's Favorite Things 2007

Posted by: Andee / Category:

I don't usually watch the Oprah Winfrey Show, I like her but my roommate hates her guts. Not sure why... she just drives him crazy. He's weird like that. Same thing with Hilary Clinton... he can't put his finger on why he doesn't like her, but he knows he wouldn't care to invite her over to dinner. Personally I believe she does a lot of good things with her money and her fame, and you can't say that about a lot of celebrities.

Oprah's Favorite Things aired yesterday and I love the stuff she picks out. In case you missed it, here are some of the hottest gifts for the holiday season!


"My first favorite thing is state of the art and I carried it around with me all through Macon," Oprah says. The Samsung SC-HMX10C is so small it literally fits in the palm of your hand. This high definition digital camcorder records everything on a chip so you can download your video directly to your computer. With the flip of a switch, the camcorder becomes a camera that snaps picture-perfect digital photos. "It's fantastic," Oprah says. "It's so easy, even I can do it!"

  • Approximate value: $799.99
  • 800-SAMSUNG; www.samsung.com
  • Available at major retailers including Amazon.com, Circuit City, Sears, CompUSA
"I bet every truly dedicated Oprah watcher knows what my feet cannot live without," Oprah says. This slouchy knit boot keeps feet comfy and cozy in three colors: black, sand and rum raisin. The UGG boot's famous sheepskin sock lining is like walking on a cloud.

  • Approximate value: $120
  • 888-432-8530; www.uggaustralia.com
  • Also available at Nordstrom stores www.nordstrom.com

"My next favorite thing comes straight out of the pages of O, The Oprah Magazine," Oprah says. TOYWATCH watches come in a variety of styles and colors and have been seen on everyone from Madonna to Al Gore. The Crystal and Colored Crystal models made Oprah's list this year. "I loved mine so much, I wore it just about every day on my big road trip with Gayle." Oprah says.

  • Approximate value: $150–$1500
  • 877-998-8600; www.toywatchusa.com
  • Also available at Bloomingdales stores nationwide www.bloomingdales.com

Sam Godfrey, the cake genius behind Oprah's 400-pound 50th birthday cake, is bringing his sweet treats to the masses for the first time. Perfect Endings Cupcakes can be shipped anywhere in the United States and come in three fabulous flavors: red velvet with white icing, chocolate with chocolate sprinkles and coconut.


The Melamine Bowls, Measuring Cups and Spoons come in a rainbow of colors to brighten up your kitchen. They feature built-in, no-spill spouts for easy pouring and can be stacked to save space. Plus, no-slip rubber rings at the base keep your bowls in place.

  • Approximate value: Bowls $32 (set of 3); Measuring Cups and Spoons Set $18 (cups $14, spoons $8)
  • 800-541-2233; www.williams-sonoma.com


The Artisan Stand Mixer is a favorite appliance of cooking superstars like Paula Dean, Emeril Lagasse and Oprah's own Art Smith. The mixer comes in a variety of fun colors to match your kitchen.

The Discovery Channel's Planet Earth DVD Set

The Discovery Channel's 11-part series Planet Earth is an awe-inspiring view of the spectacular world we live in. More than five years in the making, filmmakers shot footage in 200 locations in 60 countries around the globe. "I'm telling you, it is the most magnificent series you will ever lay your eyes on," Oprah says.

Kai Body Butter and Body Buffer

"Bathing is an art form and nobody enjoys it more than I do," Oprah says. Kai customized their signature scent into a moisturizing body butter in a tub just for Oprah. "It's clean and fresh," she says. She also loves the Body Buffer by Kai, which combines an exfoliating loofah and cleansing soap all in one. Just wet and squeeze to release foaming bubbles that smell like an exotic garden.

  • Approximate value: Body Buffer $28; Body Butter $55
  • www.kaifragrance.com
  • Also available at Embrace in Hinsdale, IL: 877-361-7223, www.embraceyourstyle.com; www.eluxury.com, 877-890-7171

CLARISONIC Skin Care System

Developed by the people who created the Sonicare Toothbrush, the Clarisonic Skin Care System helps remove six times more makeup than soap and water alone. The bristles vibrate 300 times per second and massage your face to squeaky clean perfection. "It's a miracle massage for your face," Oprah says.

Claus Porto Soaps from Lafco New York

These all-natural, bath-sized shea butter bars distributed by Lafco New York are a labor of love. They have been created by the Claus Porto's family-run factory in Portugal for the past 117 years. The jumbo-sized soaps appeal to the senses with beautiful wrappers and 17 magnificent scents, from honeysuckle to grapefruit fig. "They make great hostess gifts," Oprah says.

'The Pillars of the Earth' by Ken Follett

Oprah says her 60th Book Club selection, The Pillars of the Earth, is the book to give this holiday season.

Author Ken Follett's epic tale, which is set in 12th century England, is about the quest to build the world's greatest Gothic cathedral, and the struggle between good and evil. "You will not be able to put it down," she says. "It's the perfect gift for under $25."

To make these books extra special for the Macon audience, Oprah's team tracked down the author in Australia so he could autograph every copy!

  • Approximate value: $24.95
  • Available wherever books are sold or online at www.penguin.com
Breville Ikon Panini Press from Williams-Sonoma

Every weekend for years, Oprah says she's made Stedman a special snack on the stovetop, which she calls "the love sandwich." She used to melt hot pepper cheese over smoked turkey and fresh basil in a skillet…but not anymore!

Now she uses the Breville Ikon Panini Press—a kitchen gadget that turns ordinary sandwiches into yummy paninis. "It takes the 'love sandwich' to a whole new level," she says. This panini press doesn't just make a great sandwich—it also grills meats, fish and veggies.

HDTV Refrigerator with Weather and Info Center from LG Electronics

Oprah's giving the most expensive gift in Oprah's Favorite Things history to her loyal viewers in Macon—LG HDTV Refrigerator LSC27991. It's a top-of-the-line, high-tech entertainment center with a LCD TV, DVD hookup, radio and slideshow option to display your favorite digital photos.

With the press of a button, you can also access your five-day weather forecast and view more than 100 built-in recipes. LG has even volunteered to remove our lucky audience members' old fridges and either recycle them or give them to families in need. "LG has literally thought of everything!" Oprah says.

Ciao Bella Blood Orange Sorbetto

Ciao Bella's Blood Orange Sorbetto is made from all natural ingredients including blood orange juice shipped straight from Sicily. "I love it because the flavor is just so refreshing," Oprah says.

Rachel Pally Swing Turtleneck and Sailor Pants

After a long day of taping The Oprah Show, the first thing Oprah says she does backstage is change into something comfortable. Now, she's sharing her new favorite thing to lounge around in!

This outfit by L.A. designer Rachel Pally is made from stretchy fabric that's both lightweight and super soft. "It barely feels like you're wearing anything!" Oprah says. The turtleneck and pants are available in sizes 2 to 24 and come in four colors—purple, navy, teal and brown.

  • Approximate value: Swing Turtleneck $141; Sailor Pants $194
  • www.rachelpally.com
  • Also available at Nordstrom stores www.nordstrom.com and www.shopbop.com
Scrabble Premier Edition from Hasbro

When Stedman gave Oprah this gift one Valentine's Day, she says she loved it so much, she just had to share. This premier edition Scrabble board has a beautiful mahogany finish and conveniently spins on a lazy Susan. A golden raised grid keeps your tiles in place and a built-in drawer keeps everything organized. "Get ready for game night!" she says.

United Artists 90th Anniversary Prestige Collection

In honor of the studio's 90th birthday, United Artist has created a gift for the ultimate movie buff. A whopping 90 DVDs of their best and most popular films have been compiled into one book. The set includes 8 Academy Award® winners like In the Heat of the Night, Annie Hall, Some Like It Hot, Rocky, West Side Story and Midnight Cowboy. Each DVD is packaged with liner notes about the movie and never-before-seen photos and original movie posters.

  • Approximate value: $869.98
  • www.unitedartists90.com
  • Available in stores December 11. Pre-order at www.Amazon.com, www.BestBuy.com and www.Borders.com
Shaklee Get Clean™ Starter Kit

Regular viewers, like those in Macon, may remember how much Oprah loves cleaning and spot removal—this gift gets things clean and helps the environment. The Get Clean™ Starter Kit by Shaklee is filled with eco-friendly, high performance concentrated cleaners, stain removers and cleaning supplies. "Get ready to go green!" Oprah says.

O's Guide to Life

Each month, Oprah says she's just like a proud mama when the new issue of O, The Oprah Magazine hits the stands. O's Guide to Life is a compilation of more than 100 of her favorite O, The Oprah Magazine articles that help you live your best life. Topics include health, beauty, sex, love, money, family and making a difference in the world.

Every audience member is going home with a copy that's been autographed by Oprah herself!

Josh Groban's Noel CD

If you love classic Christmas carols like Oprah, this is the album for you! Josh Groban's Christmas CD Noel includes "The Christmas Song," "O Come All Ye Faithful," "Ave Maria" and other all-time favorites. "It's the one Christmas CD every family should have," Oprah says.

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