29 June 2010

Oscar's Vet Visit

As you know, Oscar and I had an appointment with Dr. Kurpel this morning. Last night, I had tucked Ocs in next to me, growing increasingly worried at his glassy, half-closed eyes. He was showing no interest in food or water, and I was pretty sure I knew how the conversation with Dr. Kurpel was going to go. I woke up nearly every hour, and I finally woke up just a few minutes before my alarm was set to go off, and started about my day.

To my surprise, Oscar joined me in the bathroom as I was getting ready to go. He had gotten off the bed by himself and walked down the hall into the bathroom. Now, as background, he almost always comes into the bathroom whenever I'm in there (typical cat - he must know what's going on at all times), but for the past couple of weeks, he's had no interest in anything going on. So this was two good signs - ambulating on his own accord and showing interest in old "hobbies." Then he wandered into the kitchen for some water. Then the trouble started. He tripped over the bathroom scale in the hallway. He stumbled in the living room. After he drank some water, he couldn't turn around (whether from sheer exhaustion or inability to manoeuvre, I don't know), so he just laid down in front of the water (which had the bonus of pissing Felix off). But his eyes were no longer glassy - they were wide and alert. He was holding his head up better (although it was still shaky), and he seemed generally perked up.

So, to the vet we went. And, this is when I want to sing the praises (not literally, because that would offensive to your ears) of Naomi who graciously put her day on hold to accompany Ocs and me to the vet today.

Dr. Kurpel checked out his vitals and checked his leg reflexes. She also watched him walk a little bit. He still stumbles when he walks, and he often splays his hind legs out, as if he can't hold them under him properly. She also noticed the same thing that I had with regard to his front leg also starting to get a little wonky. His right front leg is showing some weakness (but I'm wondering if that's because he's using his front legs to compensate for his hind legs), and he's been crossing his front legs when he walks. We discussed next steps. The options she laid out were to go see a neurologist, who she said probably wouldn't be able to tell a whole lot without doing testing such as MRIs, CAT scans, etc., which would involve sedation (read: much expense). And, of course, that would lead to findings, which would lead to, "So, here's what we can do about that." Which leads to more decisions, more procedures, etc. So, basically, it's a whole path I'd be taking Ocs down.

I told her that I'd given it a LOT of thought last night, discussed it with Wise Women (read: Mom and Ria) and decided that it just didn't make sense for a 14-year-old cat who has lived a long, full life and already has chronic health issues (thyroid disease and suspected arthritis). Plus, as Naomi mentioned, with an older cat, the anaesthesia alone is already an increased risk. And, as we all know, with an animal, you can't just explain to them that they're being poked and prodded for a reason and it's all to make them feel better. So, with all of that in mind, I felt pretty strongly against the neuro option.

She said she thought that actually made a lot of sense, and that she would make the same decision for her cat at home, given the circumstances. I felt SO relieved. I said, "Oh good! I was so worried I would leave and you'd talk about me to the other people here, like 'Man, I thought she was worried about her cat!'" She said, "Uh, you've MET me, right?" She said that she'd just told me about the neurologists at Penn because it's her responsibility to tell me about all of my options and let me make an informed decision. So, on to Option #2.

So said Ocs might have some kind of inflammation that could be causing all of this, so we could try a oral steroids. We discussed what the possible side effects of the steroids are, what could happen if we just do nothing, if the goal here is that the steroids help him or just make him not get worse (we're hoping for the former, but we'll settle for the latter), etc. If the steroids work, this will be another medication that he'll be on chronically. If not, we'll need to figure out what to do next.

She and I discussed quality of life indicators. Today, things for him are good. But yesterday and Sunday, they definitely weren't. (Oh, and I learned that purring doesn't equate contentedness. Sometimes, a purr can be a "pain purr.") The plan for now is that I will check in with Dr. Kurpel on Saturday, but sooner than that if Oscar takes a bad turn again.

Once again, I can't thank everyone enough for all the hugs, prayers, and thoughts you've sent our way. It means so much to me that you've been supporting Oscar, Felix, and me through all of this.

28 June 2010

Oscar Update, Part II

I just called the vet and spoke to her because despite what seemed like some good signs yesterday, Oscar was showing some not-so-good signs today. First the good news: I did NOT have to make A Big Decision today.

Now, the rest of the update:

Yesterday, we walked through the house (largely unprompted) - still swaying and stumbling, but not as much - and then used the litter box all by himself. This seemed encouraging as I had been having to helping in and out of the box.

Then, this morning, he fell getting into his box. And he stayed in his splayed out position until I ran across the room to help him. After that, he has pretty much refused to try to walk at all. At one point, I got him off the of bed and put him on the floor to try to get him to drink some water, and he wouldn't even try to stand up; he just immediately laid down. I picked him up again, and, again, he made no effort to try to find his footing. The third time, he tried and stood for a few seconds until his legs started to give, then laid back down. Okay, fine, message delivered. I brought the water bowl to him.

I also noticed today that one of his front legs seems like it is also starting to act a little gimpy, which is troublesome. This is what prompted the phone call to Dr. Kurpel. I don't like new symptoms! When she called, she asked how I was, I said I was fine; I asked how she was, and she said she was good. Then she asked how Oscar was doing, which is when I just burst into tears. I said, "I actually don't know, which is why I'm calling you." I explained that it seemed like he was doing worse, then better, and now worse again.

We talked about his symptoms, including his ever-increasing lethargy, and she suggested that I see a neurologist at Penn's Vet School, if I thought he was stable. If not, I should take him to the ER. A third option was that I could bring him back there and she could do a regular exam to make sure that everything that she could check was fine, as far as heart rate, lungs, blood pressure, temperature, etc. If anything there was funky, that would at least save me a trip to a specialist. I decided to do that first thing in the morning, and we'll discuss options from there.

I'm hesitant about going the specialist route since - honestly (and not to be mean, but...) I don't have a lot of money. I'm unemployed right now, and we're talking about a 14-year-old cat. A 14-year-old cat who I love dearly, but who already has thyroid disease. So I also want to talk to Dr. Kurpel about what kinds of things, in her non-specialist opinion, does she think we could be talking about.

I also want to thank everyone who has been really supportive to Oscar, Felix, and me throughout the past several days.

26 June 2010

Oscar Update

Those of you who follow me on Twitter know that Oscar has been ill again.

We went to see the wonderfully awesome Dr. Kurpel on Wednesday because I noticed several days ago that Oscar was having some problems ambulating - he wasn't able to jump up onto the love seat, and was actually having to crawl onto it. I had also taken note that Ocs had missed the last several showers with me, which is not at all like him. In fact, when I can't find him, I'll just start the shower water running, and he'll come running (it's a handy trick). He seemed generally lethargic, but I had written that off to the hot weather; I mean, I wasn't really going out of my way to run up and down the hallway, either, you know? But when he started stumbling around my apartment like a drunken sailor, it was time to call the vet.

And they said, "Bring him in TODAY." Okey doke.

I took him in later that afternoon and Dr. Kurpel said she didn't think it was a stroke (because I didn't report Ocs seeming disoriented or tilting his head a lot), but she did suspect a vascular event of some sort. She said it can be a side effect of the thyroid medication that Oscar is on for blood clots to form, and if he has a blood clot, it could be making its way through his spinal cord. And if it is a blood clot, it should make its way through his system and clear up. She said that has seen cats before brought in with complete hind leg paralysis due to the thyroid meds, and she said that once it gets to that point, that only thing that can be done is to put the cats to sleep. I asked her what kinds of warning signs to look for, and she said not to worry, because if that was going to happen to Oscar, it would have already happened. Whew.

HOWEVER, if Oscar isn't ambulating well in the next few days, pretty much the only other thing to do would be MRIs and CAT scans to look for brain lesions and spinal cord lesions, which would run over a thousand dollars. She thoughtfully remembered that I was unemployed the last time we met and asked if I was working yet. I told her no. She was very honest in telling me that even if we did those tests and found something, there's only so much that could be done and even THEN, there would have to be discussions about the likelihood of success of those surgeries, quality of life after, etc.

While we were there, we did his routine thyroid blood draw, which includes kidney and liver function tests. She also checked his blood pressure and did a blood sugar test to check for diabetes. Sugars and blood pressure were great. She called me the next day to let me know that everything with his kidneys and liver looked great, and his white cell count was SLIGHTLY elevated, but it was so slight that she wasn't worried about it. However, his thyroid level is now too low (he's been too high all this time). She said she's seen it happen before in one cat that she treated where the hind legs get locked up due to hypothyroidism, so that could also be contributing to the problem. So we adjusted the meds that day. I'm to call her early next week (which is now in just a few days), and let her know if Ocs is doing any better. From there, we'll make any decisions we need to make. *gulp*

Yesterday... was not good. Oscar was unable to sit properly to eat or drink. After he ate a little, he tried to walk about five feet and fell over. I burst into tears and went over to pet him, only to find that he was purring away - at least one of us was happy. Last night, I moved the food and water into my bedroom (where the litter boxes are) so Ocs wouldn't have to leave.

Mostly, I'm spending a lot of time this weekend holding and petting Oscar - hoping for the best, steeling myself for the worst.

In the meantime, enjoy this picture Oscar making himself comfortable with my friend Rachel (who Ria knows better as Med Student):

25 June 2010

One year ago today...

I've been sitting here for about an hour trying to write this post. I wasn't sure whether to write that the world lost a legend a year ago, that I lost a personal hero, or that we all lost a musical/dance genius. Because it's all true.

He's outsold any other musical artist. He has inspired an entire generation of other artists in both musical stylings and choreography. He was the first black artist to have a music video played on MTV (remember when MTV actually played videos?). He co-wrote "We Are the World" with Lionel Richie, a song for charity, which was the fast-selling U.S. single in history. He's overcome personal demons, many of which have been documented (and vehemently denied by Joseph Jackson) and some of which I believe we'll never know about. He alluded to some of them in his single "Childhood." He unsuccessfully tried to overcome a painkiller addiction (acquired when his hair caught on fire while filming a Pepsi commercial), but the point is that he had the courage to acknowledge the problem and face it - not that he failed. And he was a great philanthropist; he gave over $300 million and founded the Heal the World foundation.

I still have things on my TiVo that I recorded a year ago when the tributes started. Some of them (like the video tributes) I've watched over and over again. But most of them I haven't watched at all because it's just too painful. I still can't believe he's gone, even a full year later.

Random events make me cry. During a scene in "We Are Marshall," the Jackson 5 song "The Love You Save" is played, and I burst into tears. Walking through the city the other day, I heard someone blasting "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough," and I found tears streaming down my cheeks. I never knew losing someone I've never met could be so painful.

I understand that some of you reading this don't share my love or passion for MJ, but please be kind to those of us who are still in grieving and are in pain (in general, but especially this weekend). One of the women on my MJ board shared this story this week: She and her fiancé (who are getting married in a few weeks) were meeting with their DJ. Her fiancé mentioned to the DJ how much she loves Michael, and the DJ asked her, "So, have you gotten used to him being dead yet?"

Earlier this week, I ordered a floral arrangement of sunflowers (his favourite flower) to be placed at his internment site today. For the past few weeks, I've been working on two MJ cross-stitch patterns. I was hoping to have them both done by today, but I only succeeded in getting one of them done; I think the other one will be done this weekend, though.

PS. Dear Joseph Jackson: Screw you for filing a wrongful death claim. All MJ fans should file one against YOU.

24 June 2010

Knitting for Mom

Last December, my mom travelled with me to North Carolina to drop afghans off to the Victory Junction Camp, which is a charity drive I organise every year through Ravelry. While we down there, I let my mom browse through some knitting books and magazines I had brought to see if anything caught her eye. She chose the Gossamer Stars Scarf by Kat Coyle.

The next day (actually, for the next two days), Cristi took Mom and I on a yarn/fabric/food crawl (hint: if you ever need a Charlotte yarn crawl, this is the woman to consult!). I found the yarn I wanted to use for Mom's scarf: Southwest Trading Company's Bamboo, purchased at Yarnhouse. Going by the yardage stated in the pattern, copiously doing the maths (since this particular LYS isn't local to ME and I had one shot at getting the knitting maths right), I purchased three skeins. As it turned out, I only needed two. Score!

This scarf is worked from the middle out - start with a provisional cast-on, work to one end, pick up the live stitches and then work to the other end. It's charted - yay, and is pretty simple. There was one stitch that I had to consult The Woman Who Knows Everything (aka: Brook) about because when I did it, it wasn't looking AT ALL like the pictures. But she fiddled with it and reported back that it wouldn't until I purled back on the next row. So I soldiered on. That, plus the knowledge that I had forgotten how to count to six solved much.

Mom and I agreed that this would be her combination birthday/Mother's Day gift (her birthday is 02 April), which worked out nicely since I'd be seeing her again in Charlotte late-May for the NASCAR All-Star race and Coca-Cola 600. My intent was to cast on the scarf during the Opening Ceremonies of the winter Olympics and use the scarf as my Knitting Olympics (as hosted by the Yarn Harlot) challenge. However, that was the time period during which Oscar was so sick, so that didn't work out very well.

However, the scarf did get done. And Mom was pretty pleased with it:

23 June 2010

George the Blanket

Late last year, I started a secret mission. I wanted to do a baby blanket for my close friend Brook. But this was quite the challenge. Why?

Because the person I usually consult when I need pattern ideas? Brook.
The person I usually consult when I need yarn ideas to go with the pattern? Brook.
The person I usually consult when I need help with the pattern? Brook.

Aye yi yi.

So I turned to Cristi instead. I explained the situation, and within about five seconds (if that long), she sent me the link for the Serenity Blanket by Laura Wilson-Martos. I picked out a yarn with the help of Kathy and Craig at Loop, my favourite LYS. My selection was Douglas Fir by Lorna's Laces, which has become my favourite yarn - it's so soft, they make magnificent colourways, and, well, I'm a sucker for alliteration.

The pattern comes in both written out form and in charted form. I love charts, but I occasionally referred to the written instructions just to make sure I was on track. The blanket is worked from the middle out. The first several rows are worked on dpns, but if I were to do it again, I think I'd try to see if I could magic loop it because it was pretty fidgety. In fact, I remember doing it a few times before I felt good about how it looked.

There was only one point when I had to stop and ask Cristi for advice, and there was another point at which I wanted to, but I thought it was a dumb question so I was determined to figure it out for myself. It was more a point of pure stubbornness. "I've been knitting for just over four years now, dammit! I should be able to figure out a basic pattern!"

The most irritating part was my own stupidity when I forgot how to count to two and I didn't discover it until four rows later. And at that point my rows were 400+ stitches each. And since the rows involved k2togs and YOs, I really just HAD to tink back... over 1600 stitches. At the time I didn't have blocking wires (mats, yes; wires, not so much). So trying to block a perfect square without wires was... interesting, especially with Oscar and Felix "helping" me. lol

But I was really pleased with the result. Brook deemed the blanket to be George (a girl) although the baby was Jamie (a boy).

22 June 2010

At long last - NASCAR HOF

As promised, here's the blog post on the NASCAR HOF.

When you enter, there's an exhibit of the various cars through the years. If you aren't paying attention, it seems as it the cars are just on a really cool inclining curve. However, for those who stop to - ahem - READ the signs that are posted (MOM, I'm talking to YOU!), you'll note that the incline is marked and represents the grade of different tracks on the circuit. And when the incline reaches 33º, there's a section where you can walk on the "track" - or, rather, attempt to. This isn't a great pic, because it's hard to see the whole "track" and the grade in a one-dimensional pic, but I think you can get the general idea:

On the floors above are exhibit halls. They had some of Dale Earnhardt's personal items, some of the cars, and the trophies. Mom and I got a kick out of the difference between the trophies from back in the day and now. Between exhibit rooms, they had hallways filled with memorabilia you can look at. And interspersed are placards with various drivers and owners who have allegedly made an impact on the sport. I say "allegedly" because at one point, I heard Mom say, "Oh my God," and I said, "What?" She said, "You'll see when you get here." About five seconds later, I said, "Holy crap. They'll let anyone in here."

There's a really great interactive area where you can practice being a jackman; try your hand at play-by-play (I wanted Mom to be Mike Joy to my DW, but she refused. She said she'd sit there and pretend while I did it by myself, but I thought it be lame to just do all the talking.); and there's a HUGE ASS board where you can see the owner's points, driver's points, manufacturer's points and how they can move around from race to race based on bonus points, etc. There were race car simulators where you could race your friends and family. And there's a Lowe's hauler you can walk through. (And unlike when I was at the grounds of Hendrick, I did not kiss the ground that Chad Knaus walked on. I knew this was a replica hauler. So shaddup.) And there's a Lowe's pit box. Where the genius that is Chad Knaus sits and works.

They really maximised all the space. For instance, even the elevator had an exhibit showing the evolution of the NASCAR logo throughout the years. And in the area in front of the stairwell, they had an exhibit showing the evolution of the firesuits throughout the years.

Please click here to take a look at the (over 100) pics I took at the HOF. I've barely touched on all of the things that are there, including the hilarious offer that DW made when a bunch of drivers all anted up when some stuff in one of the garaged mysteriously walked away. There are some really lovely tributes to fallen NASCAR comrades that I captured, and I hope you won't miss those. But I've tried to use this space to capture the entire feel of the HOF, albeit (somewhat) briefly knowing that not all of my readers are NASCAR fans.

In the coming days: a look at some recent knitted finished objects and a tribute to Michael Jackson on the anniversary of his death.

11 June 2010

A literary meme

I know I said the next blog post would be about the NASCAR HOF. But, see, this isn't a blog post; it's a meme. I won't tag anyone, but I'd love to see this pop up on various blogs, especially those of you who are librarian friends of mine (ahem).

(1) What author do you own the most books by?

Michael Connelly or John Lescroart


Okay, I went and counted. I have 16 Connellys and 16 Lescroarts. It's a tie!

(2) What book do you own the most copies of?

Charlotte's Web (3)

(3) Did it bother you that both those questions ended with prepositions?

A little.

(4) What fictional character are you secretly in love with?

James Alexander Malcolm MacKenzie Fraser (from the Outlander novels)

(5) What book have you read the most times in your life?

Charlotte's Web

(6) What was your favorite book when you were ten years old?

Um. Charlotte's Web.

(7) What is the worst book you’ve read in the past year?

Rich Again by Anna Maxted. Awful. Horrible. I want to burn it.

(8) What is the best book you’ve read in the past year?

Heroes for my Son by Brad Meltzer

(9) If you could force everyone you know to read one book, what would it be?

Charlotte's Web. It's again friendship and love and how far we'll go for those we care about, but without getting SO deep. And E.B. White's writing style... it's just classic.

(10) Who deserves to win the next Nobel Prize for Literature?

Edgar Allan Poe

(11) What book would you most like to see made into a movie?

I think a lot of Jane Green's novels could be made into fun movies without upsetting me too much.

(12) What book would you least like to see made into a movie?

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. Simply because I've lived with those characters and that world in my head for SO long that anything on the screen would BE WRONG.

(13) Describe your weirdest dream involving a writer, book, or literary character.

If I've had these types of dreams, I sure as hell have forgotten them. And that may be a good thing.

(14) What is the most lowbrow book you’ve read as an adult?

Define lowbrow.

(15) What is the most difficult book you’ve ever read?

On one hand, The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold earns a mention because it just sucked so much and I have NO EFFING IDEA why people went around praising it for a year (see my goodreads review for more on how I feel about that book). But on a more serious level, Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry is always really difficult for me. I first encountered it in grade five, and I've read it several times since then (the most recent time was last year), but it's a difficult one. Set in 1930s Mississippi, it explores living in the South from the perspective of a close-knit black family. Narrated by Cassie, a young daughter in the family, who really struggles with the social justice issues of the times.

(16) What is the most obscure Shakespeare play you’ve seen?

Unfortunately, I don't think I've seen obscure ones. Although I have seen "The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged)." Does that count? ;)

(17) Do you prefer the French or the Russians?

I haven't had either. Oh wait, you meant...

(18) Roth or Updike?

Neither, but thanks.

(19) David Sedaris or Dave Eggers?


(20) Shakespeare, Milton, or Chaucer?

I love me some Shakespeare, but I've got nothing against Milton or Chaucer, either. One of my fondest memories from high was going through The Canterbury Tales in Mr. Anderson's class.

(21) Austen or Eliot?

I haven't read Eliot. So Austen by default (although I truly like Austen).

(22) What is the biggest or most embarrassing gap in your reading?

Apparently, see above. I wouldn't say that I'm particularly embarrassed by my gaps, though.

(23) What is your favorite novel?

Charlotte's Web (okay, it's a children's novel, but it's still a novel!)

(24) Play?

A View From the Bridge by Arthur Miller. I fell in love with it in high when we studied it, they took us on a field trip to see it, and there's been no turning back since.

(25) Poem?

"The Bells" by Edgar Allan Poe, "Phenomenal Women" by Maya Angelou, and "On the Pulse of Morning" by Maya Angelou

(26) Essay?

Most anything by Mark Twain (I am a Missourian, after all)

(27) Short story?

Depending on my mood, I'll go for either Poe or Twain.

(28) Work of nonfiction?

(29) Who is your favorite writer?

Brad Meltzer

(30) Who is the most overrated writer alive today?

Dan Brown. He's written one novel. The rest are all variations on that novel. He changes the location and the character names and calls it a new novel. Wow.

(31) What is your desert island book?

Can I just take Brad Meltzer and make him keep writing new books for me while I'm there? If I had to choose just one book (and not a series or the works of an author), I'd probably take Outlander because it's good and long. Or maybe the new edition of "Michael Jackson: The Magic and the Madness." Because between reading, I could sing and dance and not be embarrassed by too many people watching me. ;)

(32) And… what are you reading right now?

Hell Gate by Linda Fairstein

05 June 2010

The Red Bull Event (Finally)

Sorry the blog has been quiet. There was a change in travel plans; instead of me flying home on Wednesday as originally planned, Mom and Dale decided to just drive me back to Philly and then go home via the PA Turnpike then good ol' I-70. Although I got home a day earlier than planned, I think the sitting in a van for two days straight (and navigating from the backseat - since Mom's Garmin is STOOPID and Dale is blind in one eye and left his hearing aids in his suitcase because he "didn't want to have them in when we were at the track" although we were actually driving AWAY from the track) left me exhausted.

I still need to blog about the FABULOUS trip to the NASCAR Hall of Fame, so that will be the next blog post. But I keep referring to the truly awful Red Bull Racing Team Fan Appreciation Event (in conversations, in IMs, in Twitters, etc.), so I thought I should actually spill the beans on it.

The event was billed to start at 2:00 p.m. with driver appearances from 3:00 - 4:00 p.m. (drivers being Brian Vickers, Casey Mears, Scott Speed, and Cole Whitt). There would be a raffle for Red Bull prizes and memorabilia, a driver Q&A, an autograph session, and we would "learn the art of four tires and fuel."

We got there a little before 2:00 p.m. so we could figure out what was going on. We found out that most of the event was on this courtyard-like level, while the autograph session would be taking place down a double flight of stairs leading to the merchandise hauler (that had been brought in from Souvenir Alley at the track and staffed by the same LOVELY people - sense the sarcasm?). We were told that to get a ticket to the autograph session, you had to buy something from the hauler OR wait until 2:50 p.m. and hope there were tickets leftover and get one then. Now, let me back up to earlier that morning in the motel room: I had told Mom that I was putting my receipt from the Red Bull Team Shop in my track bag for when we went to the Speedway since Scott generally has autograph sessions there on race day, but you have to buy something from the hauler, and I would ask if buying $52.80 worth of stuff at the shop wouldn't count. And I was putting my receipt in the bag that day since I had seen it and it was on my mind, and I was afraid I'd forget on actual race day.

So upon hearing that now I need to buy something from the hauler to get a ticket for THIS autograph session, I'm really glad I had put my receipt in my bag that morning. So Mom and I go downstairs to the hauler, and I start to say to the guy that I'd heard from the woman upstairs that the conditions for getting an autograph were XYZ. He interrupts me and says, "You don't HAVE to buy something. You can get in line at 2:50 and hope there are tickets left." I said, "Okay, but what I want to know is if --" and that's as far as I get because he interrupts me and says, "Do you UNDERSTAND? You don't HAVE to buy anything. You can get a ticket free. OKAY?" I said, "Will you just let me ask my question?" He finally did, and then said, "She didn't give a ticket then?" I said no, but what I really wanted to say was, "Well, gee, Mister, she did, but I wanted an extra one for my imaginary friend, and that's why I'm down here arguing with you about it."

Mom and I go upstairs to check things out for awhile, grab some free Red Bulls for later (I can't drink them, but Mom and Dale can). Then we found out that the Q&A would be on the courtyard level beginning at 3:00 p.m., but the autographs would be at the hauler beginning at 3:15 p.m.... where people with tickets were already lining up. And, you know, the people with tickets were the same people who really wanted to hear the Q&A sessions (there were two sessions - one with just Cole Whitt and then the second one with the other three). And, honestly, they aren't REALLY going to make fans choose between getting autographs or hearing their driver speak, right?

Mom and I in the autograph line and then we start wondering if the line we're in is maybe the line for people who DON'T have tickets yet. So we ask the people in front of us if they have a ticket; nope. But the people behind us DO. So I stay in line while Mom goes to the front to find out what's going on. She comes back to report that the woman in the trailer was astounded that there were TWO types of people in the line, but said that she would be out shortly to organise us into two separate lines.

So I go upstairs where guys are giving out wristbands for alcoholic drinks. I asked for one (admittedly mostly because they had been asking everyone else if they wanted one and I'd passed through SEVERAL times without being asked once). I got carded, which is fine, but I got a side dish of attitude with it, which is NOT fine. Then I got the "Look, I'm just doing my job" line. I flashed my ID, along with "Yeah, I AM 35," got my wristband and walked off.

Now, I find the raffle table. The raffle tickets are a buck each and the proceeds go to the Speedway Children's Charities. Since you HAD to be present to win, I asked what time the drawing was (since I knew we had to leave early-ish because of the World of Outlaws race), and I was told 2:30 and 3:30. I bought two tickets, and only AFTER I bought the tickets did it dawn on me to wonder how I would be present to win at 3:30 if I was in line getting an autograph at 3:15.

So now I'm still trying to figure all of this out, I'm upstairs by myself, Mom is sitting downstairs in line by herself, I'm getting ready to Twitter about what a disorganised mess this all is when a guy in a Red Bull outfit comes up to me and asks, "Do you have a ticket for today's autograph session?" I said, "I do, yes, thank you. And, by the way, can you tell me a little bit about how this event is working?" He explained that as long as you had a ticket, you were guaranteed an autograph and didn't need to be waiting downstairs in line so I COULD hear the Q&A and get an autograph. I told him that he might want to explain that to the people in the merchandise hauler because they didn't seem to understand. I also asked him how I was supposed to be present for a raffle drawing at 3:30 and get an autograph at 3:15, and he admitted that was a good question. And he pointed out the person to whom I should address that question. I told him that, thus far, he had been BY FAR the friendliest, most knowledgeable Red Bull rep at the event, and that I really appreciated his time. He said that, as one of the people who helped organise it, he was sorry to hear that it was really frustrating for the attendees, but that he would be passing along the feedback because it was important to Red Bull that they portray a good image.

I go back downstairs to Mom (Red Bull in hand) who tells me that the hauler guy hadn't separated them into two lines. Instead, he just came out (WAY before 2:50, mind) and handed out tickets to anyone who didn't have them. Then he came back about ten minutes later and collected ALL of them again. And about five minutes after that handed them all out again.
By this time, they draw the first raffle at 2:30 and when they're done, they announce that they'll draw the rest of the prizes at.... 4:30 p.m. WTF???? So I go directly to the raffle table and ask them if I heard correctly. Yes, I had. And this is when I pretty much go postal. And this is when Red Bull Lady says the exact wrong thing to me, which is "Well, if you only bought two tickets, you only lost two dollars." The other raffle table lady points to Milan (the guy from earlier), and I think his Spidey sense was tingling because he was already headed our way and he said, "Is there something I can help with?"

I explained that it wasn't the two dollars. It wasn't the donation to Speedway Children's Charities. It was the principle of the thing. It was yet ANOTHER example of just how disorganised and chaotic their entire event had been. He explained that he didn't know who had told me 3:30 but they were wrong, but he believed that's what I had been told based on me asking him that question earlier. He explained that things were running late now (Casey, Brian, and Scott hadn't started their Q&A) because they were at a television appearance that was running late, but they had been texted that they needed to be here NOW. I said that I understood that a tv thing was out of their control and I certainly didn't hold them accountable for that. But not being able to coordinate a simple autograph session with a Q&A? Or give people accurate information about a raffle drawing? For a three-hour event? Really?
I go downstairs to relay the newest development to Mom only to hear the hauler guy telling the people in line, "The drivers are upstairs RIGHT NOW doing their Q&A and will be signing in just a few minutes." I said, "Excuse me, but they aren't even here right now. They're at a television appearance. They've been texted and told they're running late. As soon as they get here, they'll do the Q&A, and THEN they'll be here."

Mom said that the whole time I'd been upstairs, the guy came down the line about every five minutes doing a headcount. The people in line were alternating theories on whether he was too dumb to remember the original count or whether he was trying to wait for a certain number of people.

FINALLY, the Casey and Brian got there and the Q&A started. Now, see, when they said Q&A, I had thought that the fans would get to ask some questions. Nope, instead some Red Bull guy asked some lame-o questions for about five minutes. And then we all went downstairs to get our autographs.

Oh, and the art of four tires and fuel? Never learned it.

After, Mom and I came upstairs (there was a candied apple place on the courtyard that Mom wanted to hit) and while Mom and I were talking, Milan wandered over with a prize from the raffle for me (a pair of driving gloves!). I have to say that Milan is excellent at his job - trying to de-escalate situations, telling us that he had spoken to his supervisor about our complaints, talking to my mom about how sorry he was, using a calming voice, etc. He explained that it was important to Red Bull that people leave with a good impression of the brand, and that he hoped the good-will gesture would go a long way.

I have to say that I feel good-will toward Milan but not so much toward Red Bull or toward the merchandise hauler staff or toward the Red Bull shop staff (the ones who told the other people in the store with us that Scott has a life and that's why he wasn't in the shop that day).

Anyway, that's the story of why Scott is lucky to still have me as a fan after all of that.

Oh, and we DID make it The Dirt Track. And that race got rained out. So it was a winner of a day.

But the highlight of my day? When Scott gave a thumbs-up when he saw the Scott Speed backpack and Scott Speed BlackBerry carrier my mom made me.

For the rest of the pics from that day (Speed Street, The Worst Event Ever, and The Dirt Track), click here!