Early in the morning of Wednesday, August 2, Steve and I turned the keys and the cats over to the house-sitter, and took the show on the road. Our first goal was Coraoplis, in Moon Township, PA, where we were scheduled to be Writer Guests of Honor at Confluence, from Friday, August 4 through Sunday, August 6.
This was my first Confluence (I had, way back in the Dark Ages, attended a Phlange in Pittsburgh, which was the convention preceding Confluence) and I had a blast. Everyone was very kind, interested, and interesting, too. Confluence is a small con, but I swear to you that the Entire Membership attends all of the panels. All of my panels were packed, as was my reading (I read "Emancipated Child" -- an Archers Beach story -- and Steve read "Intelligent Design" -- a Liaden short story), and my rant. The Guest of Honor speech was very well-attended, and, well -- did I say we had a blast?
Moon Township being a far more cosmopolitan area than, oh, Kennebec County, Steve was pleased to find -- and consume -- pierogies, a Food of His People which he had not had for years. And we were amazed to discover, at the end of con dinner, the existence of Burgatory.
Our after-con first goal was North Tonawanda and the Herschell Carousel Factory.
If you're ever in North Tonawanda New York, you must go to the Herschell Carousel Museum; it's that awesome. And? There is a fully restored Herschell Carousel on the premises -- one ride is included in the cost of admission; rides thereafter fifty cents each -- more than a bargain!
The surprise takeaway from the museum was that the Herschell Company saw carousels as a way to sell the motors that provide the motivating force. There were, in the museum, advertisements from the papers of the day, soliciting entrepreneurs to sign into the carousel franchise.
Talk about skewing your worldview.
We spent so much time at the carousel museum that we missed lunch and had a quick, catch-up meal at Pane's restaurant, which is the sort of place that makes you want to move to wherever it is so that it can be your neighborhood restaurant.
After our belated meal, we got back on the road to our second post-con goal of. . .
Niagara Falls, New York (no, we didn't go to the Canada side; yes, we had a good time, anyway), where we claimed our suite at the Red Coach Inn (which was surely an extravagance, but, oh, my goodness, I did love that suite, with its canopied bed, and the gas fireplace -- the fainting couch! -- and the brocade curtains, all of which overlooked the rose garden, and the sidewalk, and just right over there, the flashing, roaring river.
On Tuesday, we walked over Goat Island to pay our respects to Tesla, and also to take at least a gazillion pictures. We circumnavigated the island, then walked across the Three Sisters Islands, and in general had a very pleasant morning. After lunch and a nap, we took another walk, down through the gardens to the various landings and overlooks, finishing up the evening with a nice dinner at the Red Coach Inn, and a viewing of the fireworks!
Wednesday, I took a ride on the Maid of the Mist, and got well and truly soaked. I can report that my quick-drying cargo pants are, indeed, quick drying. Not so much the red sunhat.
Thursday, we left town, bound for Binghamton, New York, and the carousel circuit -- which is a post in itself. The short form is that, on Friday, we located and rode all five (number six, which is located in the zoo, is down for maintenance this summer), and won for ourselves the coveted Carousel Circuit rider pins. Here's mine:
On Saturday, we left Binghamton, over-nighted at World Famous Quechee Gorge, and so to home on Sunday.
And that's the quick version. I do intend to write a blog post about the Binghamton carousels, so -- watch the skies. In the meantime, I need to get back to work.
Note: this headline is an understatement. The morning briefing headline does not pull its punches:
Wednesday briefing: Trump's words of comfort for Nazis
Mic.com: 5 takeaways from Trump's off-the-rails presser on Charlottesville violence
la-belle-laide points out a hell of a tell:
ALSO? The moment after he asks to define “alt-right” and is told that John McCain said that alt-right were the Neo-Nazis involved, he said: “Okay, what about the alt-left that came charging at us – excuse me – what about the alt-left that came charging at the, as you say, the alt right? Do they have any semblance of guilt?“
The alt-right Neo Nazis is “US” to him.
I mean, we knew. I don't think anyone who's been paying attention is surprised that Trump thinks this. What terrifies me is that a) he's out-of-control enough to say this shit in public, and b) the Republicans might let him get away with it.
The Hill: WH sends GOP talking points saying Trump ‘entirely correct’ on Charlottesville
Anyone you see tomorrow saying that, well, you’ll know they’re ‘just following orders,’ and that they always will.
Also, fuck the Republicans who will oh-so-bravely-and-controversially Tweet that neo-Nazis are evil, but not criticize Trump by name.
In fact, fuck the Republicans who will daringly tut and shake their heads sadly at Trump by name over this, but do nothing to stop him or remove him from power.
(What I knew about this before watching the segment: "Al Smith was the Catholic governor of New York who split with FDR and was from LES" and the only reason I knew that was because of muccamuck talking about their historical Cap fic research)
And then she did a great interview with Carol Anderson, author of White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide, which is amazing.
Anderson's original article in WaPo in 2014 about Ferguson and the backlash of white rage
America is hooked on the drug of white supremacy. We're paying for that today
Why Are Whites So Angry? (NYT review of her book)
Interviews with Carol Anderson on C-SPAN
This was also great: Racism Is 'A Persistent Infection' In White American Culture | Rachel Maddow | MSNBC
Too Fat, Too Slutty, Too Loud: The Rise and Reign of the Unruly Woman by Anne Helen Petersen is a series of essays on various "non-conforming" female public figures from Serena Williams to Caitlyn Jenner. Each essay shows how perceptions of their public personas interact with American cultural norms and the backlash than ensues. I liked that each chapter focused on a different type of non-conformity. It was a fast, entertaining read, though I did bristle at one passing reference to "Harlequin romances," a phrase which appeared to be used as metonymy for the Romance genre. Really, honey?
From the introduction: this book considers the costs and benefits of smoothing one's sharp edges just enough to make it onto the cover of Vanity Fair or into the pages of GQ, multiplexes across America, or the White House--and the implication that unruliness is still largely the provenance of women who are white and straight.
Favorite quote: It's one thing to argue that you belong--it's another thing to actually believe it. As [Jennifer] Weiner's experience makes clear, part of the difficult, essential work of unruliness is shaking the status quo so thoroughly, so persistently, so loudly that everyone--even the very women behind that agitation, many of whom have internalized the understandings they fight so tirelessly against--can see their value within it.
The Supergirls: Feminism, Fantasy, and the History of Comic Book Heroines (Revised and Updated) by Mike Madrid traces the history of female superheroes from the earliest days of comics to the present. The social history is fairly shallow, but if you're looking for an overview of the topic and a host of characters to research in more depth, you could do worse. Caveat: it's full of observations such as Thorn was as tough as they came, but dressed in a green leather halter-top and micro miniskirt with thigh high boots, she looked more like the entertainer at a bachelor party than the terror of the underworld.
I'd been reading Black and Brown Planets: The Politics of Race in Science Fiction, edited by Isiah Lavender, off and on since maybe January. I'd originally picked it up for the essay about Octavia Butler's short story "The Evening and the Morning and the Night," but the essay I found most rewarding was "Questing for an Indigenous Future: Leslie Marmon Silko's Ceremony as Indigenous Science Fiction" by Patrick B. Sharp, as it described and connected some historical events of which I'd been ignorant when I read the novel, and which added quite a bit of depth to my understanding of it.
"Monteiro Lobato's O Presidente Negro (The Black President): Eugenics and the Corporate State in Brazil" by M. Elizabeth Ginway, "Mestizaje and Heterotopia in Ernest Hogan's High Aztech" by Lysa M. Rivera, and "Virtual Reality at the Border of Migration, Race, and Labor" by Matthew Goodwin all brought me new insights and new information. High Aztech was a DNF for me back when it was new, so I'm glad I got to read about it from another perspective.
I'm about midway through the Rosa Parks bio, and hope to finish it before I leave on vacation.
Keiki squats down to look at the fish in the polar bear enclosure at the Vienna Tiergarten.
The Schoenbrunn should definitely make the top ten of every visitor attraction list of Vienna, if not the top three. It’s the gigantic former summer palace of the Hapsburgs, and the grounds alone merit at least a half-day stroll to explore fully. There are gardens, fountains, hidden playgrounds, an enormous glasshouse full of palm trees, and even a zoo.
Despite having visited the Schoenbrunn grounds many times, I’d never been to the zoo, which is allegedly the oldest in the Western world (founded in 1752). Now, with two small children, one of whom is animal-obsessed, I had good reason to go. The children and I set out early one morning to travel via the Viennese underground to the palace.
Humuhumu was keen to learn how to navigate the transport system. She got very good at spotting the way to the correct train lines, and proudly announced when the next train would be arriving after we got to the platforms.
It took us 45 minutes to get from our temporary abode to the Schoenbrunn and, conveniently, it was just about Cake O’clock when we arrived. We detoured around the palace entrance and stopped off at an Aida Konditorei, a chain of inexplicably pink cafés that serve extremely nice cakes, coffees and hot chocolates (apart from the one near the opera house – avoid that one; everyone who works there is sick of tourists and very grumpy).
We walked into the Aida and chorused “Guten Morgen” at the round-faced, unsmiling woman behind the counter. She broke into a beaming grin and showed us to the table next to a tiny play area containing toys and books, which the children pounced upon. (Throughout the trip, I encouraged the children to greet everyone we met in German, to say please and thank you in German, to order their food using the German words and, when I felt confident in my knowledge of the right phrases, I coached them to make requests in German. I was astonished at the abundance of goodwill toward us that this produced.) Humuhumu ordered her hot chocolate and cake in German, and was rewarded with an additional pink meringue, which she received with an unprompted “Danke schoen”. When we left, Keiki crowing “Wiedersehen” over my shoulder with his dimpliest smile, the server came out from round the counter and gave each of the children an extra biscuit, which, to be honest, they didn’t really need after all that sugar!
Full of energy, we bounded into the grounds of the Schoenbrunn and raced around whilst waiting for the grandparents to join us at the entrance to the Tiergarten (Zoo). As vast as the Schoenbrunn grounds are, they are not big enough to house a comprehensive collection of the world’s animals, so cleverly the Tiergarten is focused on a limited number of species and provided them with luxurious accommodation.
Keiki and Humuhumu loved the place, particularly Keiki. Once he spotted the meerkat enclosure, we couldn’t get him to finish his lunch. Neither could we readily tear him away from the penguins. In fact, Granddad had a bit of a job keeping Keiki from clambering into their pond to join them. We communed with the seals. We watched a polar bear chewing meditatively on a traffic cone. And, of course, Humuhumu found a climbing wall and had to try everything.
It was a wonderful place to spend a sunny afternoon, and we will certainly return to the Tiergarten on our next trip to Vienna.
Further photos beneath the cut.
( +++ )
Hi! Apologies for the long hiatus. I've been kind of preoccupied, with a funeral in the family and then a world science fiction convention in Helsinki, but I'm finally home and trying to get back to some semblance of normal.
In the meantime, some news:
If you're in the United States and read ebooks, The Rhesus Chart is currently discounted to $1.99. (The link goes to Amazon.com but it should be the same price on iBooks and the Google Play store and Kobo. It's probably also at this price in Canada, but not in the UK or Europe--different publishers in different territories.) If you haven't tried the Laundry Files, this book isan entrypoint: why not give it a try?
Tonight, August 16th, I'm appearing at the Edinburgh Book festival with Nnedi Okorafor, Jo Walton, and Ken Macleod. We'll be at the Studio Theatre from 7:15pm; it's a ticketed event from the main book festival box office.
And on Friday August 18th, I'll be back at the book festival for a discussion with Nalo Hopkinson, Ken MacLeod, and Ada Palmer: we'll e at Bosco Theatre (on George Street) from 6:30pm, and again, it's a ticketed event.
And finally, the big news: my space opera, Ghost Engine, is being rescheduled for 2019; instead, July 2018 should see publication of The Labyrinth Index, the ninth Laundry Files novel! Publishers will be Orbit in the UK and Tor in the USA (this being the New Normal for the Laundry Files). This change has been in the works for a few months, but I didn't want to pre-announce it until I had it nailed down. (In a nutshell: Ghost Engine was too ambitious to finish on my original schedule, and The Labyrinth Index was growing more and more timely, until they just crossed over.)
( Lengthy stuff under fold )
So, apologies for the rather frequent brainos I've been having over the past week. I will try to do better, but first I need to get my brain back...
Zagat suggests 10 restaurants to try during the solar eclipse.
Julian Assange, man without a country. Hmm. If he has no country, can any country's laws be considered strong enough to hold him?
Photos of roadside America of the past.
Dahlia Lithwick: they will not replace us.
Paul Krugman: When the president is unAmerican.
As the climate heats up, construction workers fight for breaks.
Can this summer be compared to the summer of 1939?
She's 98, he's 94. They met at the gym. And now they're married.
Amanda Knox on life after wrongful conviction.
However, there is good material in the entire video and I encourage everyone to watch it and see what violence today looks like in America and elsewhere in the western world. It has morphed on the internet and is now looking to come into the flesh and it comes with entire amounts of violence and hate. All of what the white supremacists in the video say is absolute garbage but you should watch and learn how your enemy thinks, learn of what that hate looks like, how that violence manifests itself.
Expose yourself to it, learn from it and remember it so that you never waiver in your own conviction: this shit is wrong.
The torah portion begins with Moshe describing to the people the rewards they'll receive for following in God's ways -- people and flocks will be fruitful, crops will be bountiful, none will be barren, there'll be no sickness or plagues, and they'll be victorious over the other nations. This is one of several places where the torah describes rewards for doing mitzvot. This is hard to understand, though, because the world doesn't work this way -- we do have people who want children and are barren, we do have sickness, crops aren't always bountiful, and so on. The good sometimes suffer and the wicked sometimes flourish. So how are we supposed to understand this?
(Spoiler warning: I don't have deep answers to this age-old problem. I have some thoughts.)
One approach we could take is to place it in context. Moshe is speaking to the Israelites at the end of their 40-year trek to the promised land. They're standing on the shore of the Yarden, about to cross over and conquer the land after this speech. Perhaps Moshe is speaking to these people in this time. There's even an ambiguously-placed "in the land that He will give you" (in 7:13), so maybe this promise isn't for everybody forever.
That's not very satisfying, though. The torah is supposed to be eternal, for us and not just for them.
Another approach was taken by the rabbis at least as early as the mishna (in Pirke Avot): Olam HaBa, the world to come. If we aren't rewarded in this world, Olam HaZeh, then we will be later. There are even mitzvot for which we get rewarded in both; we list some of them in eilu d'varim in the morning service. We should still focus on this world, not obsess about an afterlife like some other religions do, but an afterlife gives another opportunity for reward. I'm not sure how satisfying this is to most people, either.
I'd like to propose two additional dimensions to what the torah says about rewards, two additional axes to consider.
The first is communal versus individual actions and rewards. Sometimes the torah addresses us in the singular and sometimes in the plural. Some rewards, like bountiful crops, are clearly communal -- it's pretty hard for me to have a good harvest with rain in its proper season and so on while my immediate neighbor has the opposite. Some rewards could be individual, like health. Obligations, too, come in individual and communal varieties; we all have individual obligations in the mitzvot, but the whole community together has some too, like setting up courts, bringing communal offerings, and conducting wars in particular ways. And sometimes individual obligations can bring communal rewards -- there's a rabbinic tradition that if every Jew in the world were to keep (the same) Shabbat once, we'd get the moshiach. Quite aside from the individual rewards for keeping Shabbat -- you get Shabbat, a day of rest -- there can be a big communal reward.
When looking for rewards for our actions, therefore, we should look to both our individual and our communal benefits. Even if you're not feeling personally rewarded for following torah, maybe you're helping your whole community live in safety, health, and comfort. That counts, too.
The second dimension is the question of whom we do mitzvot for.
The Reform movement is not a halachic movement. Ok, technically we do say that the ethical mitzvot are binding and it's only the ritual ones that are optional, but those ethical mitzvot align pretty well with values we already have anyway like not stealing, being honest in business, caring for the poor, and many others. Among the others, we choose -- sometimes as a community and sometimes individually -- which mitzvot have meaning to us and we do those. Many of us find meaning in Shabbat, in communal worship like our morning minyan, in study, in many social-justice pursuits, and more.
If our progressive values and halacha conflict, however, we reinterpret (occasionally) or set aside (usually) halacha. By and large, we do the mitzvot that we do for ourselves, for the good feelings they produce and the values they align with.
When we do mitzvot for ourselves, maybe that good feeling that we get is the reward for doing the mitzvah. That's fair -- we're rewarded here and now, in Olam HaZeh, for doing mitzvot. Isn't that what we wanted?
So we tend to do mitzvot for ourselves, but there's an alternative. If we believe that torah is mi Sinai, from God, then we should do mitzvot not for ourselves but for God. Even the goofy ones, the ones we don't understand and don't find personal meaning in. (I struggle with this, to be clear.) I don't know too many people who find spiritual fulfillment in sha'atnez, the law against combining linen and wool, but it's something God cares about. Last week a friend and I were talking about kitniyot, the additional foods that Ashkenazim don't eat during Pesach even though they're not chametz, forbidden grains. (A bunch of other foods got implicated by association.) My friend is a thoughtful, intelligent person who wrestles with torah and seeks to understand; he's not one to just say "tell me what to do and I'll do it". He told me that some of these decisions about kitniyot are clearly wrong -- but nonetheless the halachic system that God gave us produced this result, so he follows it. For God, not for himself.
The name of our portion, Eikev, comes from the same root as Ya'akov, heel-grabber. I don't remember where I heard this idea, but perhaps this word is meant to remind us not to trample on mitzvot just because we think they're minor or goofy. Who's to say which ones God most cares about?
What's the reward for doing mitzvot for God and not for us? Is there a reward for putting up with ridiculous-seeming food restrictions for Pesach, for waving greenery around on Sukkot, for checking fiber contents on our clothing, for separating meat and milk dishes, and many other things? When we're not doing mitzvot for our own benefit the rewards can be less clear, but if we have faith that God gave us the torah at all, why shouldn't we also have faith that God will deliver on His promises in some way at some time?
When looking at rewards for torah, either individual or communal, perhaps we should have less focus on specific rewards for specific deeds. Instead, let us do right and trust God to respond.
( “Preface: )"OK, if you had a Mercedes Lackey-style animal companion thing going on, how would that Really work in practice?”
I am speaking, of course, about C.J. Cherryh’s Rider at the Gate books and Robin McKinley’s Pegasus. ( Read more... )
*** Except for the endings. I think Hero and the Crown is the only thing I've read of hers where she actually sticks the ending.
NOTE: I started this review right after Readercon, and then it mouldered on my desktop for several weeks. Tonight I was feeling restless and angry and useless, and so decided I might as well get THIS done, anyway; except I'd forgotten about half the more cleverly vitriolic things I was gonna say about Pegasus. Oh well, have a review.
Friday August 18
Wereweird: Lycanthropy, Animism, and Animal-Transformation in Weird Fiction
Cody Goodfellow, KH Vaughan (moderator), Stephen Graham Jones, Sonya Taaffe
Throughout the history of Weird Fiction, the idea of transformation has held sway—with roots from the werewolf legends of the French countryside to the Wendigo myths of the Pacific Northwest, the idea of the human becoming something less (or more) than human has held our collective imaginations. Here, we will discuss the idea of transformation in folklore and our continued fascination with it.
Paul LaFarge, Livia Llewellyn, Peter Rawlik, Sonya Taaffe (moderator), Joe Zannella
At first, the concept seems to be a contradiction. Lovecraft was robustly asexual with barely any interest in the subject in his writing or real-life. And yet, erotic Lovecraftian stories, films, and anime have been extremely popular. Is it possible to combine the two and create an entirely new offspring? Our panelists think so and will not only defend their conclusions but offer their recommendations.
Saturday August 19
Dark Crimes: The Weird in Noir Fiction
Paul Di Filippo, Cody Goodfellow, Lois Gresh, Peter Rawlik, Rory Raven (moderator), Sonya Taaffe
Both Weird Fiction and Crime Fiction function around the idea that we cannot trust what we once thought infallible—our very sense of self and place in the world. What philosophies drive these seemingly different strains of literature together and what unites both in their bleak view of the cosmos mankind inhabits? This panel explores the bleak cosmic horror of man as written by Himes, Thompson, and Chandler.
Voices in Weird Poetry
Frank Coffman, Darrell Schweitzer, Donald Sidney-Fryer, Sonya Taaffe (moderator), Starry Wizdom
Weird poetry has been gaining ground over the past few years and continues to gather interest among scholars, writers, and readers. Who are some of these emerging voices? How might the emergence of this new energy in the medium stir interest in past works, and create a platform to expand interest in poetic works in the future?
Sunday August 20
Ruthanna Emrys, Jon Padgett, Peter Straub, Sonya Taaffe
I will also be in attendance at the opening reception for the exhibits "Greetings and Salutations: Lovecraft on the Road" and "Caitlin R. Kiernan Papers" at the John Hay Library tomorrow night and with significant luck will manage to drag myself out of bed on Thursday in time for the noon showing of David Rudkin and Alan Clarke's Penda's Fen (1974) at the Black Box Theater. Then I will spend the following week sleeping. Anybody in this friendlist I'm likely to see at the world's premier festival of weird fiction, academia, and art?
spatch met me after my doctor's appointment this afternoon and we walked over to the Boston Public Market so that I could get my now-traditional bagel with smoked salmon from the Boston Smoked Fish Co. and he could get shakalatkes from Inna's Kitchen. I wanted to visit the Holocaust Memorial afterward, because last night—for the second time this summer, after twenty-two years without incident—it was vandalized. We walked out the back of the market and into a press conference. An Auschwitz survivor and co-founder of the memorial was speaking; he was followed by Jewish community leaders, an imam, a cantor who recited the Holocaust-specific version of the El Malei Rachamim. We walked through the memorial afterward, my first time in years. It is six towers of glass, their panels etched with numbers like concentration camp tattoos; steam rises continually through each tower and the words of survivors are written in the glass. It mentions things that other remembrances of the Holocaust often elide: the equally targeted genocide of the Romani, Jewish uprisings and partisan groups, that the U.S. knew about the camps as early as 1942. I had forgotten to bring a stone to leave as at a grave, but the memorial provides its own. There were a lot of people there.
Then we met my mother in Harvard Square (the woman behind the counter at Esmerelda—not Esmerelda herself, older middle-aged and deft with a pair of needle-nose pliers—replaced the broken clasp of my necklace for free) and she told us about 45's neo-Nazi-defending both-sides double-down.
So I will go to Providence this weekend and represent queer Jewish fish people and that's all there is to it.
P.S. Courtesy of Rob, for fans of Gravity Falls (2012–16): with the blessing of series creator and voice actor Alex Hirsch, Grunkle Stan punches Nazis.
I might just buy it anyway, wash the leftovers to see what happens, and put up with dry cleaning if it's the only option. But I'd like not to have to.
Obviously, this could be dangerous. But I am not letting LITERAL NAZIS march in my city unopposed. Besides, it could be a great opportunity:
Please let me know if you're going, so we can rideshare or try to meet up or something.
Defend Diversity: Fight to Protect Diversity Policies in the Workplace!!
Public · Hosted by Defend Movement and Build the Peoples' Democratic Workers' Party
Saturday at 12 PM - 3:30 PM
340 Main St, Venice, California 90291
- You may ask any dev-related question you have in a comment. (It doesn't even need to be about Dreamwidth, although if it involves a language/library/framework/database Dreamwidth doesn't use, you will probably get answers pointing that out and suggesting a better place to ask.)
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The aftermath in Charlottesville.
An eyewitness account.
Jeff Sessions called the car driving into the crowd an evil act of domestic terrorism. And a civil rights investigation is being opened about the attack.
In Baltimore, City Councilman Brandon Scott wants all four Confederate monuments torn down.
A diagram of overt and covert white supremacy. And this is a discussion of how supremacists can go undercover, hide in plain sight, and do damage to everyone's rights and lives.
Four things journalists need to know and remember when covering the opioid use epidemic.
A law professor explains why, for your own good, you should never say anything to police.
And remember, racism isn't just against people who are black.
The David Rumsey Map Collection.
From Weimar to Appalachia, a syllabus for our brush with fascism.
What does it mean when you call a key a slave? Or a master?
A new type of library in a once-abandoned ranch.
How to write this year's definitive novel.
A very short story about pirate librarians.
Meantime, is there anything that anyone wants from the other side of the Atlantic?
(I mean, excluding things like "A new ring of eight", "The head of Theresa May/Donald Trump", or "An entire Stilton cheese". Things I can physically and legally stuff in my luggage.)
I am not sure what the future holds in terms of my career. There is a good chance that I will never head to sea in any sort of an operational capacity but also a chance that a transplant will be successful and I can carry on. In the meantime, the RCN has been very supportive and I am very grateful for that-- I can't imagine going through this with any other employer to be honest.
So yeah this started up around the time that I thought I had a hernia. Turns out it was an infection that was related to the kidneys starting to fail. Hence my absence. I will be posting updates here as this has always been my journal for more personal things.
If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to ask away. I am open just not willing to share unsolicited information.