I have alluded several times to an "ongoing family crisis" which has been taking time away from vbz.net, and as that crisis has continued getting worse when we were hoping it would get better, I thought it was time I put up a page here to explain what's going on and how it affects vbz.net specifically.
My hypertwin's second-oldest son, Josh (age 16), is profoundly autistic and completely nonverbal/noncommunicative -- but very strong and clever, so in many ways raising him is like raising a chimpanzee (short version: looks cute at first, but don't do it unless you have the training and facilities to deal with someone stronger than you who also doesn't give a fig about social rules).
Until late 2007, though, he had been the least trouble of any of the kids; you can read more of the story here, but in short it was around that time when things really started hitting the fan and suddenly I was not only spending more time dealing with him but also spending more time wrangling with the bureaucracy of a very broken mental health-care system.
Most of this was not planned time, either; this was a situation where I might be interrupted at any moment to deal with a screaming adult-size teenager hitting his younger brothers or hitting objects (e.g. bathroom mirror, plate glass window) which might possibly break and seriously hurt him. It's the kind of thing where if you're in the middle of a thought, or even a word, you can't stop to finish it; that might be too late. The interruption itself might last hours -- if, say, taking Josh for a long walk seemed like the best way to calm him down, then finishing that word or line of code might just have to wait until that was done, because Josh doesn't like waiting when he's upset (and it's often hard to remember the details of what you were doing after that sort of thing) -- possibly until the next day, or even several days later, depending on what happened next.
Needless to say, this is an absolutely terrible environment for working on something complex like a data migration and code-rewrite. It's pretty awful even just for keeping up with orders and other basic stuff, which means that many maintenance tasks (such as updating supplier catalogs, and placing orders with suppliers) have fallen way behind -- like, 2 years behind. This is not good, but I can't see what I can do about it other than keep trying to resolve the Josh problem.
In the short term, he needs to have people working with him on a regular basis. Last year, that meant people just taking him out of the house and keeping him busy; he made it clear that he did not like staying at home. Once we got him some regular workers, he was much happier.
However, his hours keep getting cut, and keeping his hours regular is a never-ending (and only briefly successful) task as individual workers have changes in their schedules or move on to other things. Autism generally works best with a regular schedule, but the rest of the world seems to abhor the idea...
...all of which just emphasizes the need to focus on a long-term solution, which is to find a good group home for him. We have leads on possibilities, but there are funding issues to be dealt with – they generally require Medicaid; Josh was on Medicaid for 6 months, and then got switched to NC Health Choice just after we located a Therapeutic Foster Home which was willing to take him, and he was turned down.
I could go on about this in more detail, but you get the idea. (Eventually I'll have more of the story on Josh's web page as it progresses, and there's already a lot there now.)
So, in short, I apologize hugely for the current state of vbz.net, and just know that it isn't anything to do with the store itself having serious technical or business problems per se but instead with extreme interference from other areas of my life leading to lack of time to fix problems which would otherwise be very fixable.
I will try to keep this page updated as the situation changes, and I thank everyone for their patience.
--Woozle 02:08, 2 July 2009 (UTC)