I have an early afternoon emergency dental appointment to deal with some pain in my lower left back molar.
When this type of pain shows up, the last thing you want to do is the idiot dance that occurs when you’re dealing with making a dental appointment. They make these appointments THREE MONTHS OUT! You have to tell them that it’s an emergency, and describe the pain to be AT LEAST a 7.
When my tooth started hurting two days ago, I called the only dentist who can help me on my insurance. They have a 2.5 star rating on Google, which is not comforting at all. The 5 star ratings all say, “I don’t understand the low ratings, everything was fine for me.”
The did not answer their phone, so I left a message. I called then the next morning, yesterday, at 8:30am. They told me that they take emergency visits, but that you have to be one of the first to call in and get someone on the phone. So I had to wait all day yesterday, hoping my tooth wouldn’t hurt.
Called them this morning at 7:57am and got lucky. So now I have my appointment.
COMMODORE 64 AND THERMAL GREASE
A while back, I had an issue with my Commodore 64, where certain keys weren’t working. I did some online searching and found that it needed a new treatment of thermal grease.
I opened it up and could see the dried up white stains where the old original thermal grease had been. So I got some new thermal grease in the mail and just applied it over the top. Problem solved, for the time being.
The C64 started having trouble again, where I’d be typing and suddenly the screen would get flashing red characters. I opened up the C64 to check the capacitors for bulging, and they were fine.
I removed the heatsink and could see a space on one of the chips where the old white thermal grease stain was visible. This means that a bubble developed in the thermal grease, allowing heat to build. You cannot allow any bubbles.
Assuming this to be the problem, I ordered more thermal grease, as well as a cleaner and treatment product. Those arrived in the mail yesterday, so I went about removing the old thermal grease, including the stains from the original thermal grease, cleaned and treated the tops of the chips, and then added more thermal grease.
I did not take any photos from yesterday, as it got messy and I had thermal grease on my hands. I didn’t want to get it on my phone. However, I have photos from the first time.
The above photo is of the board before the first treatment. The stains on the chips are from the original application of thermal grease from 1984.
This is what it looked like after I applied the first round over the old stains. I spread it around on the chip with a tool that is included in the package of thermal grease. The chip on the far top left didn’t need the grease.
According to what I’ve seen on YouTube, this is not a good way to do it. Gaps and bubbles can be present, which can allow heat to build up.
This video shows how to apply the thermal grease using the “pea method.” It’s a rather comprehensive video for being so short.
I put a pea-sized dollop on the center of each chip, after confirming exactly where the heatsink makes contact with each chip. Below is the system with the heatsink installed, the photo of which I took the first time I did this.
Once all of those pea-sized dollops were carefully place on the center of each chip, it was time to install the heatsink. I held it above and eyeballed it to make sure that contact was imminent. Then I pressed it down, held it down, and screwed it into place.
If I remove the heatsink again, then I will have to touch up the thermal grease.
So far, the system is working just fine. No typing or gaming glitches to report.
CREEPY EX-GIRLFRIEND DISCOVERIES
For those who don’t know, in late 2019 I went through a break-up with my then-girlfriend of 20 years, Catherine. We are still friends, and we still live together, thanks to the pandemic.
But in late 2019, I invited an ex-girlfriend from 1982 to come out for a visit. This visit turned into her staying. It did not end well.
These creepy discoveries require that you know the back story.
THE BACK STORY
At the end of 2019, I invited another old girlfriend, Annie, to come out for a visit. She bought a one-way ticket, so we decided that we’d discuss her return. She painted her ex as a dangerous man, so we decided that she would stay.
None of this was planned, so it created a weird sittuation.
Catherine moved out in April 2020 to Rhode Island for four months. After this time, she called us to ask if she could come back on a temporary basis until she found work. Annie and I talked about it, agreed on it, and Catherine returned.
Catherine’s return hinged upon two very important things. One was regarding boundaries, and her understanding that she would be staying with both me and Annie. Catherine respected this boundary.
The other was that Annie had to be okay with it. She gave Catherine the go-ahead to return, and even seemed excited about it. Annie would later say that the only reason she agreed to Catherine’s return was because I was, as she put it, “suffering from separation issues.” I don’t know what this means, and I don’t appreciate her attempt to pathologize me.
Everything seemed to be as if it were being handled by three sane adults.
Things seemed fine for a while. But then Annie started acting strangely. She would never eat with us. She was always in the bedroom behind the door, facing inward toward the closet. I would later learn that she was eating candy out of a shirt pocket, which explained why her weight went from 140 lbs to 85 lbs.
She started talking in paranoid terms. One time while Catherine was making dinner for the three of us, Annie and I went outside for a walk. That’s when she said, “Well, that settles it. Catherine is trying to poison me by putting plastic on the silverware.”
I still don’t know what that means.
She flat-out accused both Catherine and me of “fucking with” her medications.
Things got worse after her divorce was finalized and she was waiting to receive her $60,000 settlement check. She dialed 911 on two separate occasions, alleging abuse. The reasons why they did not arrest me was because her stories were “way off,” according to the police, and they were “constantly changing.”
One time they took her to a hospital and claimed that “four doctors saw her” and said she was fine. Then they released her at midnight, without a car, her wallet, and just about anything else. She had sent me a few weird texts that didn’t make sense.
She stayed at a shelter over night in Marion County. They drove her back to Dallas in the morning, where she went and cleaned out our joint checking account. I was in a panic about it, because I wasn’t certain if she was safe, if she was abducted, if she was robbed. I was truly kept in the dark.
On my drive to the bank to deal with the situation, we saw her on the streets. Catherine asked, “What are you doing?” Annie screeched like an animal and darted into traffic. Catherine called 911 while I went inside the bank.
The police had her across the street from the bank. They asked me strange questions, such as, “Why were you following her?” To my concern regarding her just running into the street without looking, they asked, “Did she get hit by a car? Did any cars swerve?” This was them showing a lack of concern, which indicated that officers were believing some elements of her story.
One cop played “nice guy” and told me that Annie wanted me to go to her therapy session. Once we got to the therapy session, I quickly learned that this was a big lie. I told her therapist that Annie needed to be in a real mental health hospital getting help, as she was throwing me out of the office.
By the time the police brought her to the apartment, I was officially afraid of having Annie there. They said they were taking her to a shelter at first, and so I let her get a few things. But then they changed the story to asking if she could stay here. The “shelter” was then described as “guaranteed rape and death” for her.
When I changed my mind to say that she could stay, they got childish about it. “Nope! Too late! You had your chance!” They drove off with her in the car, taking her to Salem and dumping her on the streets outside the mental health halfway home. As Annie put it, the officer told her, “I don’t have time to babysit you for another 8 hours.”
Of course, Annie called us, acting afraid, so we drove to Salem and picked her up. She was muttering, mumbling, and being incoherent.
When we got back to the apartment, she wanted to have sex. I was not in the mood, given the events of that day. I was exhausted, afraid, concerned, and generally freaked out. She would later tell her therapist that I was “using sex as a weapon.”
The next day, she needed to talk to me, so we spent 35 minutes talking. She wasn’t making much sense, and I had to go to a doctor’s appointment. I told her that we would resume when I got back.
While I was gone, Catherine told me that Annie just walked out. She left without her phone, her ID, her purse. She just walked out. We would later learn that she walked to a church and asked them about a shelter where she could stay.
No goodbye. No discussion about that. Nothing. She just up and left.
I had no idea where she was, and I needed to get her things to her. This included her phone, which I purchased, her Social Security card, drivers license, other paperwork, and her $60,000 check from her divorce attorney.
Eventually, she got all of her personal items. She had hoarded free clothes from the church’s charity closet. This included 19 winter coats and over 150 pounds of shoes. These are items that other people could have used, but she was hoarding them for some unknown reason.
It took us two days just to pack what was in the closet. Before long, we had all of her things staged in the garage. I had to beg her for about two months to get her things out of the garage.
I saw her twice after she left. One time in a coffee shop parking lot, where I gave her the purse, check, and other things. The other time was when she showed up with a young man who lives in her building to get her things.
THINGS START MAKING SENSE
After a while, I started to realize that I didn’t really know Annie at all. She would “mirror” me, which is where she basically works to figure me out, and then pulls a “me too” in agreeing with me.
This means lying about who and what you are.
Annie lied to me about not being a Christian after learning that I was not a believer. She said that she was “forced” to go to church and didn’t really consider herself to be a Christian.
Annie lied to me about voting for Trump, after I asked her about her re-tweeting his posts. She told me that she didn’t know anything about him, and just voted the way her husband voted out of fear. Related to this, she lied to me the last time I talked to her, when she told me she “did not vote” at all. She posted on Facebook that she did vote.
When I told Annie that I had Autism, she started telling people on Facebook that she was diagnosed with Autism.
Weirdest of all, Annie knew that I was a musician and had dabbled in stand-up comedy. She wrote a poem and told me that she was “also a songwriter.” She later claimed that she was also good at stand-up comedy.
Then she said, “See how much we have in common?” And I was blinded to it all, simply because I truly wanted it all to be real. More about that later.
OTHER STRANGE THINGS
Annie had FIVE different Facebook accounts. Why? Because she believed that she needed one for her desktop, then a separate one for her phone, and a separate account/login for each device.
She does not understand the concept of accessing one account from multiple devices, and thinks that everything is device-relevant. This was confirmed when she deleted all of her emails one day from Gmail. She said, “I just deleted them on the computer. They’re still on my phone.” Everyone knows that this is NOT how Gmail works.
She deleted her emails because she though that I was controlling her. This wasn’t the case, of course, when she gave me her email login and asked me to clean up her emails, and to help her keep track of emails that required a response. This was after she asked for help with texting on her phone, and I saw that she had almost 60 texts that required her to respond, and she had not.
So I helped her with this every single day, like a personal assistant. She called it “helping” when things appeared fine, and “controlling” after.
Annie loved to constantly remind me/us that she was hit by a car when she was 3 years old. Sometimes she would just blurt out, “My dad raped me,” or “My brother Greg raped me.” She said that all four of her ex-husbands from her five marriages raped her. The one who supposedly raped her the worst was the one she married a second time.
In looking at this, I can bet that she has added me to her “rapist” list as well. She is a perpetual victim, and she will remind you of it several times per day. One time, as she was cooking dinner, she blurted out that someone had raped her, as if she were saying there was no mail today, and carry on as if this were normal.
One big red flag that should have warned me was back before she moved here. We were talking on the phone and had a VERY minor disagreement on something. I don’t even remember what it was, but it was as mundane as her liking pizza with everything on it, and me not liking pineapple on pizza.
She suddenly sounded fearful in her voice. I could hear a recoil. Then she cried, “Please don’t hit me!” Of course, I was confused, not just because hitting women [or anyone] is wrong, but also because she was 1,000 miles away. There’s no way I could have hit her, and yet she was afraid that I was going to do that.
I ignored lots of red flags, which I will explain later. Of course, the biggest red flag was in 1982, when her dad tried to kill me with a wrench because he found out the hard way that his 16-year-old daughter had a boyfriend. We dated over the summer of 1982, and she never told her father.
Before I gave Annie’s phone back to her, I took out the SD card, which I had given to her previously. I didn’t know what was on it, but I didn’t want to just hand over the phone without knowing what was on the card. We both shot lots of video and took many photos during our months together.
I dumped the contents onto my external drive and gave it a once-over in a high-level fashion. I wasn’t digging deeply. I saw photos she had taken of me, where I was undressed. Those were easy to spot in the thumbnails, so I just deleted those.
Yesterday, I realized that I had not yet checked the videos that were on the SD card. I did that. It was disturbing. She would set her phone to record video, set it down, and shoot silent video of herself folding clothes. Some were in the dark, where she was recording us while we talked.
Others were hand-held, like a video of her talking with me in the bathroom while I’m seated on the toilet.
There were also videos where we were hanging out and talking, and I didn’t know she was recording. When I’d look away, she would give a weird, almost evil-looking glance into the camera, as if she were pulling something over on me. She believes herself to be the smartest person in the room at all times, in true Dunning-Kruger fashion.
These videos were creepy. Previously, the creepiest thing I had seen was topless photos of Annie that were taken by Catherine, when they were having fun and bonding on the porch. Annie even wrote a poem that night about how much she appreciated Catherine. Catherine has said that she regrets taking those photos, as well as all of the photos and videos of us that she shot in the early months.
This was enough to convince me to dig into the photos and see what else was going on. I spent 3 hours going through everything.
She had photographed Catherine’s voting documents, which included the last four of her SSN. She had a photograph of Catherine’s signature, which was odd.
One thing that I found upsetting was a picture of a piece of paper with a business card from the Marion County mental health facility stapled to the top. This paper had instructions, which included telling her to empty out the joint checking account. It was a guide that they dictated to her, which she wrote down.
Then there was a paper that had a poem that she wrote for Catherine. The signature included a heart and “Thank you.” It also said, “Junior You Rock I had SO MUCH fun last nite :).” Catherine’s nickname is Junior.
But the most disturbing thing that I found was a paper where she wrote in rambling terms. It was difficult to figure out what she was saying.
One part showed her being upset that Catherine and I were eating together. The THREE of us were supposed to be eating together. Annie just wasn’t sitting down in the living room anymore, and had opted to secretly eat candy out of the closet instead.
The truly craziest thing is something that I’ll type out as written, and then analyze.
THE WEIRD NOTE
The note is written in a way where arrows will try to connect pieces at the top or middle with pieces at the bottom. This part, however, does not have any continuance arrows, but has one referential arrow, so I’ll type it exactly as it appears on the paper.
“Daniel S*** and his “Alias” wife Catheryn [sic] J*** | aka Junior are murderers. Daniel would talk about how ‘certain’ women would fuck his head up after they told him, Dan, that they didn’t love him anymore, and then tell me that they died from cancer.”
That is a LOT to unpack and figure out.
To the first point of Catherine and me being “Murderers,” it is unclear what she is talking about. However, I do have a hypothesis.
The “certain women” part seems to be in reference to only ONE actual woman, named Kristen Hines. She was the person who pretended to have cancer from late 2013 to mid-2014, who took Catherine and me for an emotional roller coaster ride that ended up costing us $40,000.
At one point in that horrible adventure, Kristen would profess her love to both Catherine and me. But at the end of the scam, we learned the hard way that she didn’t really love either of us. And for those who either care or are concerned, the romantic part started a few months after we started helping her. The whole thing started out as us wanting to help her with her cancer treatments, and nothing more.
Yes, I know that this is an indictment on my “relationship” with Catherine. More about that later.
As for them “dying of cancer,” Kristen the cancer scammer died in mid-2019 at age 40, but the cause of death was never revealed. This lead me to conclude that she either died of an overdose, or died from suicide. She did NOT die from cancer.
After realizing this, the only place where the “murder” claim can fit is when I told Annie this story about the cancer scammer. At the end of my story, in which I note that Kristen had died, I said, “and I’m glad that she’s dead. Not so much glad, as relieved.”
It’s natural to have feelings like this toward a person who lied about having cancer and messed with you for financial gain, especially when it destroys your life as you once knew it. Yes, I am highly relieved that Kristen Hines is dead.
This is the ONLY thing I can think of that would lead her damaged brain to conclude that both Catherine and I are “murderers.” And I say “damaged brain,” not as a personal jab. She was actually run over by a car when she was a child, and sustained some brain damage as a result. One area of her skull is a bit flattened by the accident. She struggles to comprehend things, to remember stories, and to function in life.
This explains the failure of all five of her marriages. She needs serious help, and I hope that she gets it. I had high hopes for things between Annie and me. I really wanted things to work out, which was a big piece of what allowed messes like this to happen.
As a side note, before I quit Facebook, I saw her profile on Facebook. She has gotten friendly with Steve, the guy she had divorced last year. They were married for about 15-16 years.
I think she’s working to get back into his good graces. Why would she be friends with someone who was, by her own words, abusive, neglectful, and who left her to die in a hospital parking lot because he didn’t want to incur another medical bill?
ABOUT CATHERINE AND ME
Catherine and I are still here in the same apartment together, although our relationship has been redefined as “very dear friends,” while we work to figure it out. Clearly, something was wrong when we were self-identifying as “boyfriend and girlfriend,” so simply stepping back into that place would not be a good idea.
We have separate sleeping arrangements, as we work with our individual therapists to figure out whether or not we should be a couple. If it turns out that we should not be a couple, then we will move on like adults and remain friends. Until then, we are doing just fine as being responsible, adult friends.
She is, after all, the closest best friend that I’ve ever had. She’s been here through a lot, even though we have never been a romantic couple who never went through a “honeymoon phase.” Things were never romantic between, and we had always mistakenly considered that to be a positive sign.
For now, we’re both okay with being friends and living together. She can give me rent money and knows that I’m spending it on rent. We continue to work together as we have since 1999. And neither one of us has anyone else whom we can lean on during these difficult times. Neither of us can afford to live alone.
The episode with the romantic cancer scammer in 2013-2014 AND this incident with Annie both point to a major hole in our relationship. It signifies a problem. The problem, it seems, is simply that we are not a romantic couple. We were together and defining ourselves as “boyfriend and girlfriend.”
We were forcing it, when it wasn’t true.
We had even planned on getting married at one point, which in looking back I feel that was a case of us really wanting to certify that which was not true. We would make for a bad husband and wife, at least on the romantic side of it.
But we do have the “friends” thing figured out, and that works fine. This is where we excel.
We are probably going to be together as roommates at least until the end of the year, or until we get on our collective feet. There is no urgent emergency due to any stress or negative feelings. There is no discomfort, because we are honest with each other with regard to what’s going on.
Both of us have expressed interest in moving on, should our therapy results conclude that it’s best for us.
My approach is that I am not desiring either outcome. For me, this poisons the well. If I really want to work things out with Catherine, then I’ll do whatever it takes, which includes ignoring red flags and ending up in another bad situation. If I really want to live alone, then I won’t work on figuring out whether or not we can have a relationship.
In other words, let the chips land where they may, without a desired outcome, and then accept it. That way, I won’t be actively trying to make either scenario happen. Either it works, or it does not. And worst case, we will always be dear friends. If that’s as bad as it gets, then I’m okay with all of it.
That highlights my problem within the context of my situation with Annie. I wanted it to work so badly that I was willing to ignore all red flags, because those got in the way of what I wanted. I wanted things to work between Annie and me, and by gosh I was going to make sure that was excactly what happened.
As it turns out, ignoring red flags is a very, very bad idea. This is but one of many things that I am fixing via therapy.
IN THE END
We’ll see how it all turns out. I hope the dentist is relatively painless. I hope that the C64 is truly fixed and stays that way for a long time. And I most definitely hope that the future turns out good for me, for Catherine, and even for Annie.
I want everyone to be in a good place. I hope that Annie gets her act together, even though I have officially washed my hands of her. We’re not even friends.
I hope that Catherine has the life that she wants, including romance, if that’s her thing.
As for me, I’m not certain. While I am not desiring any specific outcome, my main concern is to be safe. Between Kristen the cancer scammer, the wild Annie adventures, and the harsh realization that Catherine and I were never really a couple, I am having a hard time trust both women AND myself.
I don’t trust people in general, which is an issue. It’s hard to trust people when I’ve had so many horrible experiences with other people [thanks, Autism!].
One thing I can do is set boundaries, stick to them, and trust them. Beyond that, I can drop the practice of “wanting” something in a woman, and instead keep an eye out for red flags, and then respect them when I see them. No writing off. No making excuses. No justifications.
Respecting self-set boundaries and red flags may be the only way that I can continue to function in our horribly broken, dysfunctional, mentally unwell American society.