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Beyond the Jumpgate: My new home at AstronomyJewelry.com

This <*> site has been out of commission for several months because I have been preparing something new.  Since there are so few <*> Pins left, I have decided to focus primarily upon a new idea that I have been nurturing: to be able to create full-color space jewelry featuring ANY high-rez image.

To say the least, I am glad to announce that I have FINALLY succeeded.   Take a look at these pics!

Orion Nebula Pendant: front view


 Orion Nebula Pendant: back view

There’s lots more where THAT came from.  :)

Here’s the amazing part: a few months ago when I was searching for a good name for a site focusing on astronomy jewelry, I went to Internic’s “Whois” site just to find out who already owned a cool name like “astronomyjewelry.com” since there was no way in heck that the name was available.

No one owned that name.

It was actually available.  ARE YOU KIDDING??

Mine now!  :)

I’m glad to say that even though it took nearly 2 years of learning, I have finally broke through to professional level when it comes to this new approach to jewelry.

Since running two sites at once is beyond my current energy level, I am going to close any sales on this site for now.    I’ll leave the site up as a record of my adventures in the <*> world.  Collectors would probably need it as a reference as well.

Please visit me at astronomyjewelry.com and let others know it’s there as well.

See ya there!  :)

What’s beyond the jumpgate?

A few months ago, I received a bunch of Jr Pins from Portland. I had told my friend (the one who is storing my stuff in his basement back there) to root through my stuff and just not mention anything that happens to be strange or too personal. So we now have Jr Pins that are not mentioned on the website just yet.

I have converted a few of them into Starry, Magic Purple Green and Shadow varieties. I emailed my best two dozen <*> Pin fans about this new development., complete with a secret, custom web page. The response was surprisingly low. I got just enough orders to cover an emergency expense, fortunately.

There are not many B5 fans out there, I know. Ya just can’t try to offer the same thing over and over to the same small group of people and expect to duplicate one’s own previous successes.

So my creative thoughts have now turned to the critical question: “What’s beyond the Jumpgate?” as far as doing Pins are concerned.

I have some ideas I am trying out. One has to do with learning a whole new jewelry-making technique. Another has to do with making unique scarves that look seriously awesome. I have already exchanged three scarves to people who loved my design. We’ll save the scarves for a different blog post.

In a few months, I might be able to offer something waaay beyond the <*> design as far as making Pins is concerned. The only limit will be time for practice and money for materials.

Right now I am working on a first-draft creative idea.

It won’t be made of metal, like the Pins you already know. More like a blast from my far past back in the long-ago days when I used to do professional pottery, only on a lot smaller scale with much greater precision and creative possibilities.

Eventually I hope be able to ramp this whole new creative technique which I’m currently learning all the way up to: “Give me any full-color image and I’ll turn it into awesome Pin.” Custom colors, interesting shapes, awesome one-of-a-kind themes, it all could become possible one of these days. Maybe by even Christmas.

The nerve damage from the chemo continues, though not as bad as last year. (Being able to walk almost normally again is an awesome thing. :)

Despite the fatigue, I am hoping I can slowly ramp up this new Pin idea as my health allows.

I’ve tried pushing myself very, very hard these last couple of weeks to create super-complicated, awesome designs as a gift for a couple of very deserving folks. Unfortunately, as it turned out, that simply does not work with my kind of intermittent fatigue. I’m only capable of a few hours a week for working, if that.

I can, however limit myself to relatively simple designs at first, so as to not burn myself out so much.

If this new idea turns out to be the beginning of something completely awesome, you can officially say that You Were There (TM) right at the beginning when the <*> Pin artist started creatively looking beyond the Jumpgate. :)

Wish me luck. :)

I’m still alive… sorry I’ve not been posting much lately.

A few quick updates:

I am still living in the same house that was threatened with foreclosure. My landlady has been fighting the bank with what seems to be a pretty good lawyer. I’m surprised I’m still here, but it’s better than having to move.


I am definitely not a blogger by nature… I like responding to other people’s comments on various website forums out there more than I like generating my own original content. My apologies to everyone for not keeping this one updated.


Some Jr. Pins were found in Portland. YAY! I had ’em shipped, now they are here. I am playing with colors and experimenting with creating different Rarities with the Jr size. Cool. Stay tuned for updates on cool Jr. Pins!

Still have not confirmed if there are any larger size Pins still in my Portland storage.


Health news: I got scanned again and I’m still stable… the cancer is not growing any larger for now. Let’s hope it stays that way. I’ve been dealing with fatigue and brain fog, both which seem to be permanent. WTF did the chemo do to my brain? I know it causes nerve damage… :(

Ah well… hey, I’m still alive, that’s the thing. :)


The end of the <*> Pins era is coming

I recently took inventory of the remaining Pins here in Nevada… wow… there are not many left.

If you want to get a Jumpgate Pin, now is the time to do so. Please spread the word. There’s got to be someone out there who wants a Pin – that will help me cover some really overdue utility bills as well.

ALSO… I’ve decided to let my friends in Portland sift through my stored stuff looking for Pins. Looks like we MIGHT have us some Junior Pins! I have to see what kind of condition they are in. I am waiting for them to arrive in Nevada.

If you want Junior Pins, email me to reserve your Junior Pin. If they are up to my standard, you can have one. :)

Keep in touch, everyone…


How to gamble in Vegas – the Elana way

When I first moved to Vegas, I expected some culture shock, since it is so different from Oregon. That’s exactly what I got on many different levels.

The first shock was seeing a slot machine section in the local grocery stores. EVERY freakin’ grocery store here has a slot machine section!

During my first months in Vegas, I wasted a few bucks at first to see if this slot thing was worth it. Nope. Bunch of money pits. Not much fun.

After awhile, I learned a good new gambling habit:
Start feeling lucky. Have enough to go out and do something interesting that day. Go to a penny slot machine. Stick in a dollar. Eventually lose the dollar. Get disgusted. Leave.
Wait a few weeks for the disgust to wear off. Get another dollar, go back, lose it, get disgusted for a few more weeks.
Repeat until you are bored silly with the whole thing.

More recently I discovered a neat trick: some of these grocery store gambling places give you a free soda if you sit at one of their slot machine. Cool.

So now I sometimes wander into the slot machine section of the local grocery store. Stick in a dollar. Ask for my diet soda. Gamble and lose around 25 cents max. Grab my “winnngs” (Woohoo! A whole 75 cents!) and leave with my nice, discounted can of soda.

Cool. I get a soda for around 25 cents cheap on average and a few minutes of gambling. If I win more than a buck, hey, free soda and some extra pocket money too.

I like discovering this secret of how I can gamble in Vegas and win every time. :)

Visiting the new bridge near Hoover Dam

Earlier today (Saturday Oct 16) I stood on a new bridge.

For the last several years, the powers that be have been planning and building a new bridge in front of Hoover Dam. I’ve been watching it’s progress on the Discovery Channel and in reports in the local newspaper.

A few months ago, they announced that the public would be allowed to walk on the bridge for a few hours before it opened to traffic for the first time. At the time, I was stuck with the car still broken. I was still learning how to manage my limited energy so I’d have some whenever it was needed.

I REALLY wanted to be at this historic bridge opening. I decided at the time to see if I could apply the Straczynski’s quote “faith manages” to this little dream. I printed out the flyer from the bridge website and taped it to my sorry excuse for a desk. Every time I looked at that flyer, I imagined being there.

Well, everything DID come together like I hoped. I finally got the car fixed (YAY!) and a friend (who prefers to remain anonymous) offered to go with me to the event. I spent the last few days going to sleep REALLY early and taking a lot of naps, saving my personal energy for bridge opening day.

Last night I went to sleep at 7pm. I woke up this morning at 7am, chomped on some whole-grain breakfast and waaaay the heck too much coffee. We were on the road by 9am. Hoover Dam is 45 minutes away.

As I rode, I reflected on the uniqueness of living in this interesting place. Las Vegas is basically like any other city in the great American Southwest, with convenience stores, schools, city parks, bad neighborhoods, good neighborhoods, grocery stores, all the usual, expected urban accouterments.

To the tourists, the Strip is all of what Las Vegas means. To us locals, the Strip is just one extremely fancy street in the middle of an otherwise normal city.

I feel blessed to be living in a place where every year, millions of people spend millions of dollars just to be there. I don’t have much money, but for the price of a little bit of gas or some bus fare, I can spend a few hours for free among all those who dreamed their Vegas dreams and then set aside the time and money to be here. That’s just cool.

We headed past the suburbs and into the desert. The windy road twisted around the hills next to the huge body of water behind Hoover Dam known as Lake Mead.

Eventually we saw a whole lot of happy people in bright orange vests waving bright orange directional flags at the approaching cars. Law enforcement personnel and park rangers kept everything in order as we turned into a huge, dirt parking lot. I was amused to see many of the same double-decker buses that are normally part of the Vegas transit system waiting there. The city buses were being used to shuttle people from the parking lot to the new bridge.

I have a borrowed video camera. When I got on the bus, I wasted no time going to the upper deck. I was happily able to grab a seat up front and set up the camera for the trip.

The lot was 6 miles to the bridge. I happily video’d the whole route as the people around me commented on the history of the place. Some fun narration there.

Finally at one point, I spotted the Colorado River on one side – and realized we had nearly crossed the new bridge before I even noticed it. That is a deliberate part of the design. The bridge deliberately hides the beauty of the surrounding landscape from the vehicles so that traffic would not end up in a constant, distracted-driver traffic jam. Beyond the concrete barriers on each side is a walkway for visitors.

I noticed with delight all the tourists and the visitor tents set up in the northbound lanes. The buses were going a mile or two into Arizona in the southbound lanes. They then turned around, went north in the same lane, then parked to let the visitors disembark.

I carefully walked on the road towards the tents, noticing how the concrete barrier blocked the view of Hoover Dam. Every thirty feet or so, they either had wooden platforms for people to stand on, or metal stair/ladder things for people to climb over to get to the sidewalk.

Looks like a few of the vids I shot are worth uploading to Youtube. Here are some links:

Vid 1

Vid 2

Someday I’ll edit the rest of my footage that I have, add some good music and share it with the rest of you guys.

Overall, I was impressed with how well the event was handled. They must have done a LOT of dress rehearsal before the event. The local newspaper talked about the possibility of serious traffic jams in the shuttle parking lot. Turns out maybe half of the huge parking lot was actually used by the public for the event.

I am glad to be alive here in Nevada… I get to see stuff like this here. :)

Closing in on the end of “Pinventory”

I closed the website a month ago to take care of personal stuff.  Now I am starting to get ready again to offer more Pins.  But first, some medical updates.

My last visit with the oncologist dealt with the nasty fatigue and sleepiness I have been dealing with.   I have been on a “light chemo” – mostly just the miracle drug Avastin – so I should be getting at least SOME functionality back.  I’ve been able to process a decent amount of Pins – enough to start seeing the end of the Jumpgate Pin inventory here in Nevada.  (Who knows what’s still in my storage in Portland).

The fact that I can take any Pin and modify it to a customer’s specification (just give me a few extra weeks) throws the whole idea of “x type of Pins left” into a different dimension.  Recently, a customer sent me a pic of Lyta’s eye bleeding, and asked for a Pin that “bled” red color down the front of the Pin.  That thing took many days to finish.  For a one-shot, one-pin custom order like that, I ask for around 100 bucks.

Before I announce that the website is ready for folks to look at again, I need to re-count what I have available now.  I am not sure yet how I want to handle upcoming demand.

I DO know I want to offer custom colors.  I have a nice list of what colors to offer.   Idea: If you ask a custom-color price, NO ONE ELSE can claim that color, EVER.   I get stuck with a little container of the rest of that color, but that’s a small price to make you guys happy.

I think I’ll work on a page called “What Custom Colors Have Not Been Claimed Yet” for this site and see what happens.  I might be able to Photoshop those custom colors in advance so that you can see a sneak preview of you are getting in advance and decide on what you want.  That way, you are not limited to what I have on hand, and you get to know you have a Pin color that no one else has.  :)

Stay tuned for the news on what happens next with the Pins!

The new “2010 STARRY” :)

I’ve been talking to some new friends here in Vegas who are in the business of special finishes for model trains, airplanes and the like. I am deeply grateful to them.

It turns out that if you want excellent advice on smart, professional ways to beautifully finish some small item, there’s no one better than the model hobby shop experts out there. (Rock on, you guys!) ;)

The Pinventory (at least here in Nevada) is getting rather low. At the same time, the Red Pin inventory has been way too high. Not many people want to buy Red Pins. I was annoyed… I didn’t want to get stuck with a bunch of unpopular Reds. Time to get creative. I wondered… could I transform some Reds to something actually cool?

As you may already know, when I am not sleeping or dealing with fatigue, I have been experimenting on and off with transforming existing Pins from one color scheme to another. The “Magic Purple Green” and “Shadow” Pins I invented here in Nevada were a great success.

At the same time, I never believed I could ever reproduce the Starry here in Nevada. The little white dots were too difficult. Back in Portland, I had the help of a special, handheld precision gizmo that delivered perfect, tiny white dots to help me create the first Starries. I didn’t think I could do it again without the equipment I had back then then.

The model hobby folks taught me differently. You don’t need precision gizmos for that kind of detail. What you need is a darn good magnifier and special paint with the correct properties. Also you need a good friend to do the work just to help you out. Hey you, thank you… you know who you are. ;)

The idea of a new kind of Starry started becoming possible in my mind. Still, I didn’t want an exact copy of the first ones… I wanted to make something special. |-)

So as I continued researching, I found a wonderful blue that looks like the classic Starry finish in room light… and shines with a sparkle effect in the sunlight.

As a result, we now have a new Starry that has it’s own magical transformation effect. This time the visual changes are not seen depending on the angle of the light, as in the “Shadow” Pins, but via the light intensity. This thing looks different in bright sunlight or near a bright lamp than it does in normal room light.

Here’s the 2010 Starry on Flickr.

2010 Starry thumbnail pic

These Starries cost the normal 35 bucks each.

Email me and let me know if you want a 2010 Starry!  :-)

Latest news – various random news

I have been distracted by a LOT of stuff lately… hard to concentrate on stuff like blogging. So here’s some news:

The FDA has postponed it’s decision to ban the drug to keep me alive until December 17. That means I get to have a whole three months on Avastin. That stuff WORKS… I don’t care what the government thinks.

I am off of the nastier chemicals for now. I am slooooooooooowly recovering from the powerful chemo drugs I was on earlier this year. I still have fatigue problems but they are improving somewhat. I am at the the point where if I go outside for a grocery errand or something, it flattens my energy level for only around the next 24 hours or so instead of a whole 3-4 days.

I remember my first time on chemo when the cancer first showed up in ’07… it was only 4 rounds of chemo, yet it took 5 months for me to recover. How long does it take for someone to get back their energy after a whole year of that poison stuff? Heck if I know. I am just glad that I get to have only Avastin for the next 3 months so that I can continue my slow upward energy trend.

I need to keep seeing that energy growing. I have bright ideas and plans to start a whole new series of custom pin work before Christmas.

I can’t reveal much now, but it turns out that there are some certain potential collaborators who have the same kind of specialized tools and equipment I used to have access to back in the mid-90’s to make Pins. On top of that, they might actually let me personally use those tools during a certain two-week period in November.

I have some talents they need for their own purposes, while they have the specialized equipment I need to invent new Pins.

Negotiations are happening. Can it work? Is my health even going to freakin’ allow me to accomplish even a few of the new creative ideas that are happily dancing in my brain right now?

If it CAN work, it means that I could create some seriously cool pins of ANY custom design (at least ones that are relatively lawyer-free) within the next 12 weeks.

I can already hear the questions: “Are you going to make more Jumpgate Pins? Pleeeeeeze???!! Can I have a ________ Pin??”

For honesty’s sake, I won’t go re-copying the old Jumpgate Pin design into new works of metal just to keep that old project alive. I promised 15 years ago that those series of Pins would be rare, and I am keeping my promise.

However I am seriously wondering; if I can soon re-connect with the same kinds of resources I had in the mid-90’s to make Pins, would it be ethically OK if I created a new re-tooled, re-styled, very limited series of Jumpgate Pins to take care of those who missed the first round? Same idea, same color schemes, yet a slightly different, hopefully even-cooler design re-tooled within the metal?

I don’t know. It’s something for me to mull over until I find out if I can even make any of this new stuff happen in the first place. (EDIT from a year later: I never was able to re-connect with the metalworking resource I used to have, so I ended up going a different direction. See my most recent posts.)

In the meanwhile, I am busy taking what’s left of the Pinventory as it is and getting creative as my energy allows. I am not ready to re-open the website yet. I am taking Pins that don’t sell and converting them into new colors. Red Pins do NOT sell for some weird reason. So I am giving up on the Red Pins and converting them into unique colors. More details later.

Now… arrrhgggh… suddenly I have to sleep. Thanks for listening… I’ll talk more later. :)

Shipping news and personal energy

I am glad I gave myself all the way to September 10 to re-open the website to more sales. As usual, I keep forgetting that sometimes I end up needing to rest for up to two or three days at a time. This past week was no exception.

I am writing this on Friday night. Tomorrow I am shipping out my first order if I have the energy. Larger orders with hard customer deadlines take precedence and always go via trackable UPS. I insist on that. It’s for my own piece of mind to know that the Pins got there on time as requested.

Orders with no particular deadlines are next. Easy to process, just pack, print out/cut out Pin certificates, print out labels and ship and then take a rest. It’s easy, yet takes time per order… I am usually rather over-cautious, checking and re-checking to make darn sure that I got the exact Pin the customer asked for.

Last are the special orders. They are the bottlenecks in the Pin fulfillment process. Someone got what’s supposed to be the last Golden in Nevada – which needs some serious re-polishing. Someone else got the last first Purple-Green, which has a slight defect which needs sanding out and re-lacquering. No problem… both those customers will get updates on their orders as they happen. I already got the polishing supplies for refurbishing the Golden from the hardware store.

As usual, I am learning to pace myself… a difficult task for someone as impulsive as lil’ ol’ me. Before cancer, I was a high-energy, loud, impulsive creative soul. I am still stuck with the loud-voice curse, but at least the creativity is still shining through the lack of energy. That’s a blessing.

Being forced to effectively plan everything I do because of the general lack of energy is actually a good, maturing experience for me. I have to remember that if I wake up feeling actually halfway normal, I can’t let myself go with my usual first impulse by slamming everything into high gear and doing a zillion things at once.

As completely fun as that is, I gotta remember that if I let myself go that way, I will end up paying for it in no-energy days… time lost to being stuck on the sofa staring like a deer in the headlights at the Discovery Channel or just sleeping. No energy to do much else.

I have always known I’ve needed a moderating force in my life… didn’t expect that to be cancer.

So life goes on… I am glad to have the Pins to work on as a positive thing. Thanks you all for that. :)

Pinsite activities suspended until September 10 – this is GOOD news. :)

Here’s a quick alert which is going out NOW – outside of the usual Sunday/Wednesday blog posting schedule:

I have suspended website activites until September 10, 2010. Despite the majority of orders which asked for many more Starries than I had left, the remaining orders were definitely enough to fulfill my immediate needs.

To help maintain my energy level at a decent rate and not crash due to chemo aftereffects, I’ve decided to suspend new orders for almost 3 weeks.

That’s 1-2 weeks to be sure I have more than enough time to serve my current customers with the attention AND the classy service they truly deserve…

…plus one whole week to just rest, take care of myself, go stare at some Discovery channel stuff and re-do the jumpgatepin website a bit.

Thanks for your help and patience, everyone! :)

NOTE from late November: Turns out I didn’t have enough energy for more than two months. Yikes. Well, at least I am back now, sort of.

Apple pies and astronomy

I was watching this video some weeks ago and remembered how much I loved Carl Sagan ever since I was a kid. |-)

His famous quote: “If you want to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe.”

That’s been running in my head a lot lately. So I relegated it to the creative voices in the back of my head to go chew on while I go do something else, like trying to run the rest of my life. Sometimes it’s like a peanut gallery back there.

Some of the comments that fell off the other end of my brain:

“Uhhhhh… that sounds like WAY the heck too much work.”

“Does that work the same way for cupcakes? What if you had a microwave?”

“Man, we’ve got ENOUGH problems without having to go gathering up all individual atoms and quarks and electrons and try to put them all together in the correct order just to get freaking STARTED on the first @#$%! grain of sugar… much less a whole apple pie! Can’t we just go to the grocery store?”

“Errr… you realize that the universe already did the work of inventing apple trees and cinnamon and eggs and wheat grains and ovens and nice bakery people… plus all the other relevant stuff. So we don’t have go to all THAT much trouble, right? When you really think about it, that’s actually kinda cool.”

That last one made me stop… and realize, y’know that’s actually true. Something “greater than us” (insert with respect your own personal beliefs here) already did a heck of a lot of work in inventing all that stuff. Now we have the means to perceive it, appreciate it, furthering the creativity of it, like making apple pies. We don’t have to do all that work. It’s already here.

I’m not sure why, but that actually feels kinda positive somehow.

It’s a very comforting thought… and I don’t know why.

Whatever it is, I appreciate that unexpected comfort. :)

“A still more glorious dawn awaits
Not a sunrise, but a galaxy rise
A morning filled with 400 billion suns
The rising of the Milky Way…”

“Starry? STARRY! Got a Starry? WANNA STARRY!”

GOOD NEWS: I had a few pretty decent orders from this past week. Talk about ’em later…

BAD NEWS: Seems like half the inquires were about the last very few STARRY Pins I had. Lots of hope and enthusiasm in my emailbox.

All I could do after the last few were gone was to put a lot of folks on the Starry waiting list. Not fun. :-/

Here in Vegas, I have learned how to take any existing Pin and change it to almost any other solid color. I even learned how to put gold veins on a single one-off Pin, which is a new thing to learn.

However the Starries were special. I remember having access to a unique, air-powered enamel-dispensing machine back in the mid-90’s. Using a specialized artist syringe containing a tiny needle, I applied those little white dots….


I had a little thumb switch for the power. My face was nearly 5 inches from each Pin. For the next 15 minutes or so, I sat and hovered over every Starry being born, hearing the machine go click, click, click with every hit on that little button switch. With each click, out came a tiny touch of white enamel.

I did that, one Starry at a time, until I reached the goal of 100 Starry Pins.

I wish I could go back in time and tell mid-90’s me to make 200 Pins and save 100 for the year 2009-2010. She would have thought I was nuts.

Ah well… all good things must come to an end sometime. If no Starries show up in my Portland stuff, that’s the end of an era. It’s been a good run… I am going to miss those Starries as much as you guys. :)

HOLY Straczynski!

Yesterday, my exhausted, overwhelmed brain could NOT handle the tasks needed to plan a whole new “Hey everyone, check out my new blog and stuff!” net-campaign.

In a fit of “aw the hell with it” despair, I instead posted a public plea for help both on this blog and Facebook regarding that task.

I tossed in a call to other fans to ask J. Michael Straczynski for a positive word.

Then I closed my laptop, took a nap, woke up, blankly stared at some Discovery and Sci TV channel stuff for awhile, then went to sleep.

Woke up this morning at around 11am my time. Checked my personal email box (not the one currently on my website)… saw a note from Jan S. with the news that Joe had asked everyone for help on my behalf.


Joe had posted a positive word on my behalf online at 4pm the previous afternoon. :)

Have a screenshot. :)

WTF wonderful storm of massive cool responses is awaiting me at Facebook and also in my main email account right now?? Good gawd…

Time to make a plan.

First… get THIS post up on Facebook.
“Hi wonderful Facebook people!” :)

Thank everyone for their help.
Done. :)

I turn my face now to the Great Maker himself. :)
With a grin I say:


Saying thanks, you rock, you are awesome, etc…. all that JUST DOES NOT COVER IT.

So imagine a massive chorus of thanks coming at you in a huge chorus of every terrestrial language on Earth.

Imagine the concept of “thanks” given in every communication form ever imagined by humans in the entire past history of our species.

On top of that, now imagine the concept of “thanks” given in every non-terrestrial communication and languages borne within currently-unknown civilizations across the universe… so many languages yet to be discovered by our planet’s great-great-great-great grandchildren, traveling and learning and discovering those languages in triumphant future starships even today’s Steven Hawking could probably ever dream of. :)

I extend those same thanks not just to Joe, but to my fellow B5 fans as well. You guys let Joe know… you guys have been helping in my fight against cancer for nearly a year now, and for that I am grateful. :)

Massive Elanic thanks officially given via blog post…
DONE. :)

I have GOT to go to my email and send every indivdual who wrote to me so far a fast “I GOT YOUR NOTE, I’ll get back to ya, stay tuned, patience please!” kind of reply.

Thanks in advance for everyone’s patience.

Man… I got WORK to do… time to pace the energy level VERY carefully…

-Elana :)

I have been making an attempt at scheduling my blog posts for Wednesdays and Sundays so that I don’t end up accidentally spamming my RSS and email subscribers. However THIS post I’m gonna let loose RIGHT NOW for obvious reasons. Now you know.

Just re-read that big-universe thanks thing in my own darn post… wow… I am just REALLY glad that despite everything else, cancer has NO effect on my own ability to imagine something greater than my own life.
(Have to admit it was fun shooting for just a SLIGHT bit of hyperbole there. ;-)

Tired, exhausted, need help from someone with more energy

Tired and sad. :-/

My bedframe is BROKEN (it hurts to sleep), I have scary medical bills that insurance does not cover… and I am too damn fatigued and exhausted to do all I need to do. :-(

I really need to write a nice, concise public announcement happily announcing my Pins again to the world (I have videos!) and saying I have a blog now, “hey, check it out”, etc. asking folks to spread the news.

I also need to somehow get the energy (and guts) to write to Straczynski himself and politely ask if he could put out a good word on my behalf out to the world. That could really help me in my fight against stage 4 cancer.

If someone else out there could volunteer to do ANY of this kind of get-the-word-out kind of stuff, that would REALLY help my current depressing state of overwhelm.

Thanks for listening.

The day I met some Billy Mays wannabe…

Some weeks ago, I woke up and realized I had won the “personal energy lottery” (i.e. I actually had a little energy for a change) for that day. So I decided to get an errand or two completed before the energy vanished again.

I did something I normally don’t do… ended up in a shopping maul. (sic!)

On the sidewalk was a vendor’s stand piled high with those super-absorbent towel things. In front of the stand was a table with some enthusiastic guy happily and loudly demonstrating the absorbency of the towels. He had a large pitcher of water, several bowls and a fast-talking, demonstration sales pitch.

I normally avoid that kind of thing, but I decided that being entertained by some Billy Mays wannabe was more interesting than whatever else I had going on in the next 5 minutes.

I decided to cheerlead him a bit for the heck of it, honestly, without sarcasm. What the hey, the guy was just trying to make an honest living.

So I started cheering to him: “Sales pitch! YEAH! Do your pitch! SELL them towels! YEAH!” as he slammed that water around with the towel and did his routine.

It all came crashing down into a huge slag pile of ROTFL the next moment when both he and I heard THE next thing that escaped my mouth:


The guy collapsed all over his table, busting a gut.
I nearly collapsed on the sidewalk – not believing WTF I just said.

I have to admit… I think did the nearly impossible. :)

I actually made a live pitchman utterly SPEECHLESS.

It’s all Ben Fold’s fault.

I saw his freakin’ video on Youtube and the name of his wacky song just stuck in my head.

Hopes, dreams and dry rot

Back when I was younger I used to dream of living in a motorhome and driving all around the country, looking for beautiful places, fun discoveries and wonderful roadside eateries located in obscure small towns.

As I grew up, I completely gave up that dream. I gave it up so much, I managed to go through most of my adult life without even learning how to drive.

Then one fine day in late 1999, I went to an auto auction with an acquaintance to see what an auto auction was like.

Then I saw it; a 1974, off-brand, 18-foot motorhome.

my old motorhome

The friend offered to buy it for me and drive it to a location where I could store it until I learned how to drive.

Two hours later I was the proud and very boggled owner of that new-to-me motorhome. I had no idea what I was getting into. I’ll skip the part for now regarding how I learned how to drive and the whole goofiness of having an ancient, clunky motorhome as one’s first car.

Turns out that old machine was like some old man with a cane who has a lot of “being old” health problems and a grumpy, curmudgeonly attitude to boot. There were a LOT of issues that came with it, from a bad carburetor to structural problems to a non-working shower to electrical problems to leaks in the roof and more.

But just like some old, grumpy relative you love anyway no matter what, I really, REALLY loved that ancient, problematic old monster.

I had the crappy malfunctioning Quadrajet carburetor replaced with a kick-butt, impressive Eidelbrock, tore out the inside of the back section and designed/built my own custom storage cabinet/folding table unit, invented a useful gravity-powered water system for both the sink and the shower, replaced the toilet, replaced the mattress, applied new waterproofing compound to the roof, installed LED lights, tossed out the lame ladder originally meant for the sleeping loft and invented an ingenious way to use large sturdy, stackable plastic crates as both storage bins as well as creating an instant mini-stairway into the loft. That was fun.

That old motorhome tried all kinds of creative ways to fall apart over the years. I remember one rainy night zooming down Highway 26 (down the steep hill towards the tunnel for you Portlanders out there). Suddenly there was a scary, LOUD banging sound on the left side. Turns out that a big chunk of the aluminum siding had come off and was flapping and banging against the vehicle body. A cop had to escort me to someplace safe and lent me some duct tape to tame the problem.

Over the years, the local Triple-A tow truck drivers and a certain local car mechanic got to know me and that motorhome pretty darn well. I often liked to joke that my home-on-wheels was “held together by hopes, dreams and dry-rot.”

Yes, it was a one big, sad puppy of a vehicle. Yes, it kept finding new ways to malfunction and to fall apart. Yes, I had the money from my crappy job to instead maybe get a small studio apartment and just ditch this problem-on-wheels.

However I didn’t want an apartment. At the core, I deeply wanted to live my dream. And because of that – despite all the problems – I deeply loved my ugly old monster.

Unfortunately, I never really got to go much of anywhere with my 6-wheeled old friend. Over the next 7 years, I never could get enough money or the time off to go much of anywhere. There were one or two epic trips down the Oregon coast, one to Oregon’s famed Crater Lake and maybe two trips to Mount St. Helens. The ‘home and I did go to the Columbia Gorge a few times, which was nice. However I’d seen too much of Oregon. There’s a whole continent to explore out there. Unfortunately, I never had enough money to go much of anywhere else.

I had bills to pay. Groceries to buy. Debts to deal with. A general sense of depression caused by the usual long weeks of grey, Oregon rain. The years stretched on.

Instead of discovering wonderful places around America, I spent most of my motorhome time situating myself where-ever I and my 6-wheeled friend could stay overnight on various quiet neighborhood streets.

After work, I would commute back to the quiet, dead-end suburban streets behind my favorite bookstore. Often I got official permission to park in the lot of my favorite coffee cafe. Other times I found adequate space besides some local neighborhood park or some random dead-end suburban street. The local police got to know me as generally harmless and were usually respectful to me whenever they recognized my friendly old monster.

At night, after I’d pull the blankets over me, I’d listen quietly to the sound of crickets, the frequent drumming of rain on my roof, and/or the sound of cars going by on the local freeway. There in the dark, I’d close my eyes and try to dream the other half of my dream.

In my mind, I had driven all day on some twisty-turny, adventurous, two-lane highway and had arrived at the destination of someplace beautiful and amazing somewhere out in the USA.

There I would be, pulled on the shoulder of Going-To-The-Sun Road, seeing Glacier National Park in all it’s glory.

There I would be, standing at a fascinating abandoned highway in Pensylvania investigating the old tunnels, waving at bike riders disappearing into the darkness.

There I would be, standing in a forest among the scattered remains of a long-abandoned industrial complex. Streets and buildings and fire hydrants mysteriously laid out within the thick stands of trees. Knowing that the spookiness of the Blair Witch Project had nothing on THIS location.

There I would be, at the little known “Grand Canyon Of the East” appreciating yet another unique, underrated place with great wildlife beauty in a whole state where most of the world seems to believe “there’s no ‘there’ there” except for the city of New York.

National parks. Route 66. Tiny towns with obscure yet wonderful local eateries. The humble beauty of a single streetlight shining at night at the intersection of two faraway country roads, hearing the buzzing sound of some struggling, old, half-lit neon sign, trying hard to keep it’s message bright.

As I slept, it was easy to make myself believe – for just a little while – that the next day I’d be waking up someplace wonderful… someplace I’d never been before… someplace inspiring enough so I could feel grateful to have been and seen that unique place before I left this Earth.

Instead I woke up every morning knowing I was heading to the parking lot of a business that was infamous among the local geeks for being a very depressing place to work.

Ah, well.

Still… I must say that half a dream is better than no dream.

I did get to live in my very own motorhome.
For 7 whole years, I actually got to be the proud owner and full-time dweller of my own motorhome. :)

Hey, I got half of my dream. :)

I do not regret having that much at least.

In the end, that old monster struggled very hard to get me to Nevada. I give it respect and credit for actually helping me make the move successful from Oregon to Las Vegas. Despite it’s age, despite it’s problems, my 6-wheeled friend valiantly gotten me to my new city quite safely. Right after it arrived, the machine finally gave up the ghost forever.

Thank you, old friend. :)

I only hope that someday, somehow I will get to experience the other half of my dream.

I hope that someday, despite cancer, I can still see so much more of the beauty and adventures on the road that America offers.

I hope that someday, somehow I will be able to live out my most cherished hopes and dreams – without the dry-rot.

“So Why Did You Leave Oregon to Live in Nevada?”

“So why did you leave a beautiful place like Oregon to come here?”

I get that question once in awhile when talking to other folks in Vegas.  They mean well, but the question drives me nuts.

The REAL answer is very personal and would take about 30 minutes to answer honestly.  It touches on some of the serious stuff in this blog post. That’s too much for any kind of casual conversation.

I finally came up with a great reply to the question which usually ends any further questioning on the subject. Nowadays I say:

“Because down here in the desert, you can see the hills without all the trees getting in the way!”

That usually works. ;-)

Cancer update: good news, bad news

Fast update:

Good news: Cancer still there, but cut to the roots (there’s still roots) at this point. My oncologist has a nice, tough pair of “pruning shears.” :)

Details: Cancer is still detected very much in the breast, liver not as much as before. A strange new anomaly in the right tonsil. Since a PET scan looks for tissue that is consuming a lot more glucose than usual, the tonsil thing could be just some kind of minor infection. Tonsils actually have their own function in the immune system. My oncologist is going to keep an eye on that.

Bad news: Turns out the FDA wants to disallow the medicine that is keeping me alive.

The banning will happen next month – September. Not enough medical studies to support my kind of treatment, they say. The drug is Avastin.

Oncologists all over the country are fighting this. My oncologist is NOT happy.

Please pray that my doctor gets to keep her good “pruning shears.”

Longer, more detailed post later… this is difficult stuff. :-/

Wishes and thanks and that kinda stuff ;)

I have a neat little tradition when I am feeling extremely grateful to a person because they did something extraordinary. Saying just “thank you” in person is not quite enough in that kind of case.

My absolute favorite way to thank someone like that in person is to say this:

“So many humans on this planet has their own secret wish or dream that they keep locked away in their heart, one which they’ve never shared with anyone. It’s often a wish that you believe could never happen in reality. Still that wish insists on staying alive, often haunting you at 3 in the morning. Yes, THAT one.

I hereby offer you this positive thought – just for you – that YOUR ultimate wish (yes, THAT one!) comes true for you in the most amazing, unexpected positive way that you never could have expected.

I honestly hope that happens for you. 

As for the details of what that secret dream of yours might be, it’s none of my freakin’ business. So there.” :-D

That’s a lot of fun. Always seems to crack people up. ;)

Need good thoughts for August 10 – Cancer test results will be known then

Hello everyone.

A few days ago, I got scanned to find out what my Stage 4 tumors are up to. I had a PET scan, a CAT scan and a bone scan.

On August 10, I will see my oncologist to find out what the results are.

I am pretty nervous… my kind of cancer is one of the worst. Stage 4, triple-negative (hardest to fight), poorly differentiated (tumor is too mixed up with regular tissue to figure out where the tumor ends and regular issue begins), with a growth proliferation factor (I forget the exact term for that) of around 77. Very slow-growth cancer is rated around 10 and below. 100 is worst-case for cancer that wants to grow fast.

So am I going to live at least for the next 3-6 months (until the next scan) or am I going to get the Big Bad News instead? I don’t know. :(

At my last scan, the tumors seemed to be mostly defeated. However we all know that cancer tends to evolve and fight back. For all I know, the tumors in my breast and liver have given up hanging out where they were and decided to go try living in a bone or a lung instead.

So whoever you are, where-ever you are, please think good thoughts for me. If you are into prayers, please pray for me. If you are just aren’t into the spiritual thing, pass on the news to others so they can help bring on the good thoughts. I would appreciate it.

It’s nice to know I have you guys, your positive emails, your overall support to look forward to. I deeply appreciate that. Look to this blog for news on how the tests all turn out. I hope to give you all good news.

Positive Life Lessons that Cancer Helped me to Learn

On some social-networking site I hang out at, someone asked: “Has ANYONE managed to overcome the overwhelming tendency to do nothing instead of anything?”

I decided to take what I’ve learned from my stage 4 cancer experience, and I replied with these comments. It got a little bit popular, which is nice. I added some more thoughts to flesh it out here for this blog.

Every human is different… but maybe my experience can help.

I spent the first 22 years of my life in a family that thought that constant criticism was the way to motivate a kid.

I then wasted the next several years of my life not realizing that element had become the foundation of everything I thought or did. Like a house with a rotten foundation, I kept falling and failing. I thought I was stupid and lazy and kept angrily yelling at myself to change already.

I also fell for the old “if you keep doing this negative pattern, you must WANT to have this bad stuff in your life” bit, so I pretty much decided I was certifiably crazy too.

I had to get a serious, life-threatening illness before I could change. Forced to really think about some really deep things. I hope you can read my words and not have to almost die first to find out what I’ve learned.

I now know that I was not lazy, crazy, stupid or deliberately motivated by bad character to avoid whatever I needed to do.

I finally now know that just extremely emotionally overwhelmed, a state of mind that actually needs compassion to help a person break free and go forward.

I now know that I never WANTED to be a person who didn’t accomplish much – I was simply programmed with the constant criticism from day 0 to subconsciously pile bad vibes upon nearly anything I tried to do – thus constantly poisoning my “willpower” about anything I tried or needed to do.

I now know that the emotional core foundation of who I thought I was – all that I believed I could be – all that was based on that insidious verbal/emotional abuse I grew up with.

Like someone born and raised in a sick cult, I learned to question and judge only myself as wrong because of the fierce and violent consequences if I dared question or expressed any confusion regarding those who were raising me. If I acted freaked out or depressed, the only “logical” and obvious explanation HAD to be simply because I was a defective person. :-/

As an adult, I simply decided I was a screwup and had no clue as to why. Like a house with a really badly built foundation, I was always falling apart and falling down. Trying to be cheerful for everyone else, but could not cheer myself.

When I finally ended up too physically sick with a life-threatening illness to do anything else, I finally had to get to the point of reaching into my core self and start to rebuild that foundation.

That is EXTREMELY hard to accomplish when one’s own well-trained-by-verbal-abusers subconscious constantly says: “You don’t need any kind of positive support, you just need to get your goddamn ass in gear!”

And THAT just seems SO completely, utterly logical…

…but it’s wrong.

I know now that a person’s brain is basically two people in one skull. You got the logical part of you and the emotional part of you.

I know now that if the emotional part of you does not feel like it’s in an emotionally safe place, does not feel gently, compassionately supported from the core self on up, a state of deadly overwhelm will set in. And you will be STUCK.

I know now that overwhelm is not one’s own fault. I know now that overwhelm is NOT laziness.

I know now that being angry at oneself for not doing anything is like taking a knife and cutting oneself deeper for the crime of bleeding.

One can then blindly get caught in an expanding spiral of anger against oneself for not doing anything, which feeds the overwhelm which paralyzes, which feeds more anger against oneself for not taking action which then feeds more overwhelm, which feeds the lack of action, which then proves to yourself what a lazy ass you are…

…and from there, it feels SO much like day-in, day-out a continuing reinforcement and proof that your original emotional abusers were so right about your lack of worthiness on this planet.

I know now that the fight to become better as a successful person is not in trying to increase one’s willpower. It’s to use your logical brain to slowly overcome that negative spiral in your emotional brain.

Since the logical brain is a much smaller creature than your emotional brain, that takes a LOT of patient work of internal reprogramming.

Remind yourself it’s actually logical to stop that soul-killing emotional spiral, to stop being angry at yourself for not doing anything, to find out for yourself what constitutes and “emotionally safe place” that you can create for yourself.

The emotional brain will probably spew out a hell of a LOT of anger against the idea. That’s part of the whole “dark night of the soul” journey from my point of view.

When you can start to break the spiral and start acting from positive faith in yourself instead of your anger against your own inaction, then your ability to go forward will start to grow, like a little seedling.

Nurture that seedling bit by bit… keep asking your subconscious to quit the negative pattern… never let yourself get impatient with yourself. Keep building the new, positive foundation carefully, slowly… over hours… over days…. over months… over years…

Then the house of who-you-are can be stronger than ever as you rebuild your base foundation on positive faith in yourself. You will be able to stand up and reach higher than you ever imagined if your emotional foundation is based on forgiveness and permission about feeling overwhelmed in the first place. Work hard to break the negative spiral.

ALSO… do you have friends or relatives who tend to make insulting jokes that put themselves or other people down as their form of entertainment? Slowly back off from them. Be grateful for their good intentions regarding trying to stay connected, yet know you need a greater wisdom than what they have to offer. Don’t waste your breath trying to explain to them what you are barely beginning to understand for your own self.

Start finding positive, caring people who – by who they are – can support you in reinforcing your effort in breaking the negative spiral. If they hear you putting yourself down, they can say “dude, you are falling into that pattern again” and you remember yet again that your job is to break that pattern. And you thank them.

Eventually you won’t have to force willpower to happen. You will eventually have an inborne “COOL. LET’S GO!” energy that you can use like good, upwelling spring water. :)

I wish someone had explained this to me 20 years ago. Unfortunately, I think I was so caught up in the “dammit, get your own stupid lazy ass in gear already” negative overwhelm spiral that the advice would have flown right over my head.

I hope that at least some of this above rambling is at least halfway useful to someone out there.

That would be a nice thing to know. :)

A Bit Of a Dental Emergency… (updated)

FAST UPDATE from August 9:

I’m home, happy and totally grateful for FANTASTIC service from the University of Nevada’s graduate dental school program.

Tooth fixed! :)

Me exhausted. :(

Me sleep now, will blog about it all later.


(original text below)

Yesterday (wednesday) I made myself a nice tortilla spread with hummus and started to eat it. I felt a crunch on a back molar. I wondered WTF would be crunchy with a soft food like that…

…and found that one of my back teeth suddenly had a nice chunk chipped off. It was tooth #18, for those who speak dentistry. The tooth seems ready to crumble even worse at a moment’s notice. I am trying to do what I can to avoid pain. :(

I don’t have dental insurance and I haven’t any spare cash for quite a while, so going to a normal dentist was out of the question.

I called the local dental schools, but they didn’t have openings.

I called my oncologist and asked politely for maybe 10 powerful painkiller pills in case the tooth crumbled completely, putting me in full-fledged pain hell before I can get to a dentist. Wish granted… I am getting those pills tomorrow. (Update from 8-6-2010, pill prescription have been acquired, that’s a relief… I can save it for if it’s needed.)

Today the American Cancer Society found me a local, more obscure dentistry school program which would take me as a patient this coming Monday.

I am lucky… the dental school program I am visiting is a graduate program for dentists who need to learn from complicated cases. If this turns out to be even worse than I fear, I will be in good hands. :)

The fee is 100 bucks just for the emergency appointment to fix the molar. Hooo boy… time to work harder on the website to earn the money to make this happen.

So I had been in a “fury” on finishing the new version of the website. To clarify, that as much “fury” as one can be in when one has only have energy to work 2 hours a day on the average due to my current health.

I am glad that I am almost done with the site… I think I will be able to offer enough Pins to cover the price of the painkillers (I have no prescription coverage either) as well as the emergency dental appointment.

Waiting for the official word on my PET scan and bone scan results happens on August 10. Dentist on the 9th, oncologist on the 10th… is that stressy or what? :-/

I really look forward to getting the new version of the jumpgatepin website up so that I can be relieved from the financial stress of these new medical complications as well as some overdue bills from chemo.

Thank you all for listening. It helps.

UPDATE from 8-8-10: TWO Pin customers came through for me… I have no idea if they mind their last names mentioned; I’d better err on the cautious side.

So THANK YOU Robin S. in Maine and Hugh R. in Ireland! I got money for the appointment plus whatever prescription I end up having to get. THANK YOU BOTH! :)

My customers are my heros… all of you.

Subscribing to this blog – something new to learn

It’s time to for both you and I to learn more about the new “subscribe for email updates for this blog” feature. It’s a learning experience for both you as my reader and for me as a new blogger. :)

I have been trying to work around my chemo fatigue to find out how people can get emailed updates on what’s up with me and the Pins. My main pin site is not set up code-wise to be easily updated.

This blog page – which is like a separate annex connected to the main site – solves that problem. I now can add features like email subscriptions, RSS, blog comments etc.

So let’s talk about the cool email subscription feature.

On the left, you can see a place to subscribe to this blog. The way it works is pretty obvious. Put in your email address, hit the button, subscribe to get summaries of my blog posts.

The part that was most confusing for me is something that I will now clear up for you. I thought that the subscription feature would immediately send a notice as soon as I wrote something. Turns out it saves up all the posts I wrote on the current day, then sends you a nice little summary early in the morning of the next day.

I HATE the idea of mass-mailing my current list of past customers to share any new news… that smells like a certain canned-pork-meat situation to me. I have decided to instead do one last mass-emailing to all of these past customers to alert them to the fact that they can subscribe to this blog.

I like having the blog feature working here that batches up every post written in 24 hours and then sends it all out on one email the next day. That means that if I write a whole pile of posts in a few hours, you don’t get spammed all to heck each time. Cool.

Then again… if I were to write some just-for-fun posts every day for several days, that mean you end up with an emailbox full of too many daily blog alerts in less than a week. I don’t like that. I’ve decided that just-for-fun posts will be batched up and scheduled for a once-a-week email alert schedule. That works. :)

Really important stuff like radical changes in my medical situation, or important Pin offers – THAT I’ll send out the next day. Cool.

I am planning on posting both personal and Pin news on this blog. I want to keep this site actually interesting… yet I know that not everyone would want to know everything I write.

I know that sophisticated technologies exist to allow a person to be able to subscribe to just one category of posts, say just special sale offers or whatever. Maybe one person would be interested in the personal stuff, while another wants to just know about any website updates. Someday I’ll be able to offer that kind of feature. However I am definitely not anywhere near that level of web smarts just yet. My web skills have been stuck in the late 90’s… but I am quickly catching up. I think my HTML skills are up to at least the year 2002 or so at this point. But I am catching up. ;)

I hope that you enjoy my first steps in this whole blogging and social networking thing. If it makes it easier for you to enjoy my site, then that’s excellent. That’s how I want it to be. :)

“One of a kind” special order Pins

I have been thinking of adding a feature for my customers – for maybe 100 bucks, I can take one of the existing Pins and turn it into a Pin which has colors that do not match any other Pin on Earth.  :)

Since there are so many colors floating around already, I would have to be the one to pick the new color – but if you want one-of-a-kind, this is the way to do it.   :)

I’ll be adding this to the main website soonish. I think 100 bucks would be a good price to offer for such a Pin.  Stay tuned to this blog for more news.  :)

Dealing with the Vegas simmer, I mean summer

I had a laugh about two weeks ago, while enduring the usual Nevada “living in an oven” summer weather.

Here in Vegas, the local paper is the Las Vegas Review Journal. We call it “the RJ”.

The RJ had published a picture in their paper depicting people running happily through the Salmon Street Springs fountain at Portland’s Waterfront Park MORE →

Fatigue, Chemo & Determination

It’s mid-summer here in Vegas and the peak temperatures are reaching 113°. That kind of heat is pretty bad for anyone, but for a cancer patient, it’s REALLY tough.

Cancer treatment – especially for triple-negative metastatic stage 4 breast cancer like mine – causes severe, unpredictable fatigue. From January to around March, I was suffering some pretty severe fatigue. I could function something like a normal person a few hours a day – the problem was trying to plan for what hours or what day. It was completely unpredictable.

More recently, my oncologist was concerned over the nerve damage in my extremities (neropathy) caused by the nastier chemotherapy  MORE →

The Video Dude

Here’s another little tidbit story for ya:

About 8 weeks ago, I was arriving at the county admin services building to buy a bus pass for paratransit. As I arrived, I noticed a guy holding a pro-level video camera walking towards the MORE →

How not to be Hip in Vegas

For a Portland techy geek like me, the “hip” thing has always been rather questionable. The concepts of “hip” and “techy geek” simply don’t go together.

Back when I was living in Portland, too many years in the rain had affected my brain. I had a real need to just get the heck out and go find some city that was as un-Portland as possible.

Las Vegas is definitely the anti-Portland.

I kinda forgot that Las Vegas is the mecca for the “hip and cool” crowd, not quite for us geeks. MORE →

Missing <*> Pin Inventory FOUND!

Well folks, a bunch of Pins I thought were sold out turned up in a box which I had in storage.  Now I know better to not mark any Pin as “sold out” but instead to have folks get on a mailing list for Pins they want instead.  Here’s the details: MORE →