I know it's been FOREVER since you heard from me. And yes, I am sorry I have not posted in so long. A lot has happened since I last posted here. To keep this relatively short, I'll just bullet point the important parts and if any of you want further details, just email me. Okay, so here goes:
- March, 2013 - The bill that we were fighting (in my last post) did not pass. My husband is still eligible to petition to be removed, (although we have not done that yet).
- April - May, 2013 - My financial situation took a nose dive and simultaneously, my mother's health began to as well.
- June, 2013 - My mother was admitted to a hospital and I dropped everything to attend to her and her affairs, (she lives in Florida). I spent the following two months with her as she bounced back and forth like a ping-pong ball between the hospital and a rehab center. Meanwhile, I began to sort out her affairs (which was/is a HUGE mess) and set out to find her an assisted living facility where she could live with her two cats. I succeeded, and moved as much of her belongings as would fit into her tiny new apartment.
- August 7, 2013 - I left Florida for home in Arkansas, leaving my mother behind, who had returned once again to the hospital before I left. (VERY sad day for me!)
- The following week was my family's vacation, and we had planned on a local camping trip, but with very little money and poor weather, stayed home instead.
- August 19, 2013 - School began for my 11 year old daughter.
- August 28, 2013 - I resigned from my position as CEO of SOSEN, for many reasons.
- August 29, 2013 - Yesterday: I attended the RSOL Conference in L.A., CA.
- Today - Mom is STILL in the rehab. (SIGH!)
So yeah, there ya go. A big break in routine over the summer, and now I am scrambling to return to some sense of normalcy in my life.
Admittedly, I was not excited about attending the conference this year. If the airline tickets had not already been purchased (which I borrowed money for and still have yet to pay back), and the conference fee had not already been paid for, I probably would have opted out this year.
In a word, with all that had been going on, I had lost my mojo.
My friend, Carla, and I traveled together and arrived Thursday and checked in. The hotel was very nice, certainly well above my Best Western standards, but we split the hotel room with another attendee to cut down on the cost. The room was packed full of typical amenities and then some. We noticed several snacks and beverages had been stocked in the room, but the price list was quite shocking. For example, a half liter bottle of water was $6.50. Uh, thanks, but no thanks. We didn't touch any of it.
The on-site restaurant's menu was even more expensive. We found out that there was a Denny's down the street one way, and there was a Subway down the street in the other direction. With the exception of Friday night's banquet dinner, my companions and I ate all our meals at either Denny's or Subway. Boy, am I sick of Denny's!
The conference was packed full of presentations and workshops and by the time I boarded the plane for home yesterday I felt like my head could explode. But, wow, did I learn a lot though. I guess no matter how much you think you know, there is always room in your noggin for more knowledge.
One of the things I want to work on in the coming weeks/months is my second book, and there was still some research I needed to do on the topic of child porn, so I took in the Federal Sentencing Guidelines in Child Pornography and Child Enticement Cases workshop by Gilbert A. Schaffnit, a criminal defense attorney from Florida. Boy, was I blown away!
Two of the questions I asked:
"How challenging is it for a law-abiding citizen to obtain a large collection of adult porn [over the internet] and never inadvertently receive any child porn?"
"Do FBI sting operations in enticement cases ever send images of child porn in their sting operations?"
The first question was answered with, "It is almost impossible to download adult porn and NOT receive any child porn mixed in." This means that of the thousands/millions of people who download adult porn, the vast majority will have child porn on their computers and not even know it. The safest way for people to obtain legal porn is either by purchasing legitimate adult magazines or videos from a reputable adult store. Whoa. Are YOU as shocked as I am???
In Florida, you can be sentenced FIVE years for EACH image of child porn you have on your computer. It doesn't matter if you never look at it. If it's on your computer, you are in possession of it.
So, if you have just five images of child porn, you could be sentenced for 25 years! If you have 100 images, that could get you 500 years!
Evidently it is VERY easy to get unsolicited child porn from free peer-to-peer file sharing sites such as Limewire. I remember Limewire. About eight years ago, my older girls and I were using Limewire to obtain free music. We eventually stopped using it and started paying for music via itunes. I consider myself lucky that we quit when we did because even back then, I remember seeing music titles with altered names; things like, "GIRL SCREAMS DURING ORGASM" and crap like that. I avoided that garbage like the black plague. Since my hubby was on The List, we didn't want to take ANY chances of getting into trouble.
Mr. Schaffnit answered my second question with, "No, FBI sting operations do not send child porn images themselves. If they send a photo, it will be typically be from the agent's own childhood, fully clothed or at the beach." I found this answer surprising since I've heard that the government will actually distribute child porn in order to nab people with possession. Mr. Schaffnit added, "Most of the time, the sting operations focus solely on the language between the agent and the perp. If the agent clearly states that she is a 13-year-old girl, for example, and he clearly agrees to meet her anyway, he is done. Even if he later changes his mind, they can still get him with intent."
Dr. Clare Anne Ruth-Heffelbower from COSA (Circles of Support and Accountability) in California presented a dynamic presentation on Restorative Justice and Sexual Offenders which illustrated how effective restorative justice can be in preventing re-offense. I've known about COSA in Canada and the UK for some time (even mentioned it in my book), and think very highly of the program. I'd love to see more state chapters develop, or better yet, a national one!
Derek Logue gave a well-thought out and highly entertaining presentation on Sex Offender Myth Busters with Tom Madison's character, Bill Blathers, heckling him along the way. They were so funny!
There were so many other amazing workshops and presenters as well, but I have to say my number one favorite part was when, during the banquet dinner, Janice Bellucci, or CA-RSOL, read Dr. Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech, adapted to our reform movement.
The original version of that speech moves me to tears anyway, but to listen to Janice's version, I literally bawled like a baby, dabbing my gushing eyes with my dinner napkin. Listening to the speech really served to remind me why I have been an activist in this movement for so long and reminded me why I cannot ever give up, because I, too, have a dream.
I have been riding the energy from that powerful speech ever since!
I feel energized and motivated and feel like my mojo is back! Thanks to all the organizers for a hell of a GREAT conference! Can't wait for next year!