Fear and Hate

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

I’ve been thinking a lot about hate. Not dislike or revulsion, but genuine hate. I don’t fully understand it but I think is has to do with fear.

Picture of Yoda with the quote, “Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.”

I find the philosophy of Star Wars, pre-Disney, utterly repulsive. It has elements of racism, sexism, determinism, and emotional and sexual repression… but that’s a rant for another time.

I do like the above quote… in part. I think Yoda is on to something but I don’t think anger has anything to do with it. Hate is born directly of fear and often that fear is fueled by ignorance.

Unfortunately the world is filled with people who are willfully ignorant of the world around them. They wallow in their hate, create logical arguments for it, build it up, and it becomes part of them.

This is true evil. When hate becomes a part of someone’s self-image they go out of their way to destroy what they hate.

I hope that as individuals and as a society we can rise above this and react to fear with curiosity not hate.

 

Happy thoughts,

Éric

Our Trip to Paris Part 3: Paris

My family (minus one) and I recently took a trip to Paris! We had a lot of fun, and I thought I would break down the experience into three parts. (Part 1, Part 2)

Paris

Easy Go Shuttle:

We used Easy Go Shuttle for a Paris City Tour and transfers from CDG to Paris hotel, from Paris hotel to Disney hotels (our party was split into two hotels on the first night due to lack of space at the preferred hotel), and from Disney hotel to CDG.

I can’t imagine trying to navigate the Paris subway system (or streets, for that matter) with luggage and a stroller, as there are no elevators and few escalators down to the subway platforms. Taxis would have been prohibitively expensive. Easy Go was prompt (15 minutes early every time) and efficient. The drivers navigated the confusing and busy streets with ease.

They provided a car seat for free, even though infants are not required to be in a car seat in a professionally driven car in France.

They do require CASH ONLY at time of use, but as long as you know this in advance (they do mention it), it’s easy to budget for it.

They email 24 hours in advance to remind you of the time they will pick you up, which is nice. They ask for a phone number to contact you…we didn’t have a phone, but that didn’t seem to be a problem. You might be able to give your hotel’s number? I’m not sure.

Paris City Tour

Arc de Triomph. I chose this picture because it’s the only one that the driver took that included the car. It was a super comfy car.

The Tour from Easy Go Shuttle (we requested 4 hours) was incredible – the driver stopped directly in front of every major attraction, and took pictures of all of us in front of them. He also gave us little tips of things to notice, like the shop section behind Montmartre that we would never have seen if he hadn’t pointed it out.

I would recommend at least 5-6 hours for the tour, if you want to see some of the lesser known gems of the city, and to start at 9-10 am to avoid rush hour on weekdays.

Things to note: they do not provide entrance to any of the attractions. Since we were only on a 4 hour tour, it would have taken way too long to wait in line to get into any of the places. So we saw the outside of a bunch of places instead, and took a little extra time in Montmartre because it was the end of the tour.

Appart’City Clichy Mairie:

Location: directly across the street from a Casino Brand grocery store (I highly recommend the store brand products!), a half block away from the subway blue line, a cute kid’s French bookstore (La Petite Librairie) just around the corner, great bakeries in any direction. 5/5

Room: we stayed in the 3-room accommodation, as we were 4 adults and one toddler. We were on the 6th floor, and had a humongous balcony (if it had been warmer, we would have pulled the dining room table out onto it to eat dinner) and could see quite the distance. If we leaned over the side, we could see Sacre Coeur!

They brought the crib up within minutes of our arrival and set it up for us, and provided a Strawberry Shortcake balloon (life sized!), which equally fascinated, terrified, and excited the toddler.

The carpets were dingy and didn’t feel clean (and the toddler kept picking up dirt from it, so that was gross), and there were some pretty big stains/burn marks in one spot in the living room. The bathroom had some mould near the bathtub (probably from the shower dripping onto the floor). The furniture was dated, but usable.

the main living space, taken from the kitchen. We were packing up to leave at this point.

It included a tiny stove-top, kitchen sink, fridge (full sized in Europe), a tiny dishwasher, and all the dishes needed.

They provide you with very little dish soap, and you have to pay for more – go to the grocery store across the street to get more, and you’ll pay less for it. We were also given a dish towel.

There was only one garbage can in the entire space, which was odd to us, but we managed by rigging up a diaper bag disposal in our room. You have to bring the garbage bag down to the garbage room yourself (nbd). The hotel staff are not going to enter your room until you leave unless you pay extra for them to come and clean your room. (I mention this because I saw reviews of people being annoyed that they don’t clean the rooms or take away the garbage. It specifically mentions that they don’t in their policies.)

WiFi was inconsistent, but functioned well enough that we were able to watch Netflix at night. It seemed to depend on the device being used – my cell phone lost signal maybe once the entire 4 days we were there, same with my husband’s laptop. But my mother’s laptop was constantly losing signal. I blame the age of the device. 😛

There is laundry in the basement (we didn’t use it) but we did go look at it. There are 2 washers and one dryer. I think the cost was 4.50 EUR/wash, and 2 EUR/dry.

We were given more than enough towels in the bathroom, which was really nice. We had a bit of an issue with the shower spraying onto the floor, but we managed to figure out a method with the shower door that limited the spray. (I think this is a “us” issue, not a “hotel” issue.)

We didn’t partake of the breakfast, but it was 8.50 EUR pp.

We didn’t see any bugs, and we checked, because of the toddler. 4/5 (lost one star because of the carpet grossness)

Beds: possibly more comfortable than my own. 5/5

Staff: very friendly and helpful. A bit of a language barrier with some of them, but it worked out eventually. They suggested an architecture walking tour of Clichy that we enjoyed, but wished there had been more information about the buildings we were looking at included on the map. 5/5

Note: not very accessible for people with mobility issues. Tub was very high to step into, toilet room was not big enough for a rollator, and the main door into the room was very heavy (pushed inwards into apartment, lip at doorway). Plenty of space for a rollator in the main part of the apartment, and the bedrooms were pretty spacious as well.


Are you interested in travelling to Paris? You can contact Jennifer Desmarais through Orleans Travel. jennifer.desmarais@orleanstravel.ca

Ottawa Comiccon Report 2018

Hello Imaginary Friends, Coffee Lovers, and Everyone else,

This last weekend was Ottawa Comiccon and a lot of you came out to see us. Thank you so much for doing that. I love talking coffee, signing books, and seeing all the wonderful people. I’m not lying when I say that JenEric Designs, Coffee, and Aspiring Something would not exist without all of you.

Without the support of fans, friends, and family I wouldn’t have the confidence or want to try and get my books published. I’ve been writing seriously now for nine years and I’ve completed 7 novels (2 which might never see the light of day) and written 5 years’ worth of serial stories. I think if my publisher disowned me and my blog died, I’d still write. It’s become important therapy and such a large part of who I am.

Coffee however is a lot of work. Although we make our money back, we don’t make enough for the hours of work I do roasting, we do packaging, and we do working conventions. It’s a labour of love and earlier this year I was not feeling the love.

I know we have a great product and that we have fans, but there are certain events that make us jump through hoops and dance and still reject us. One in particular almost broke me. Our current set up has me doing 12 hour days on weekends before comiccon, and combined with the negative attitude I got from that other event… Well, I had decided before this year’s comiccon to slow down JenEric Coffee and maybe kill it outright. I was drained, disillusioned, and scared.

Now after the event I feel completely different. Being around crowds of like-minded people, seeing the look of joy in people who love coffee, the joy of chatting with everyone, and (I won’t lie) the sales, have completely reinvigorated me. I feel much more confident and extremely hopeful for the future.

The organizers and volunteers are not what makes a good convention. What makes a good convention are the attendees, and you guys were fantastic!

THANK YOU! Thank you for making us part of your convention experience, Thank you for saying such nice things, and most of all Thank you for being awesome.

 

Did you go to Ottawa Comiccon? Did you enjoy it?

Éric

Shiro and Keith

It is Ottawa Comic Con today, and I’ve still got a few pictures left from last year. Yay!

Have some of my favourite people: Takashi Shirogane and Keith (presumed Kogane). We already know what would happen if the Doctor needed help – they would jump into action. Thanks for saving the universe!

We Shall Be Monsters Kickstarter – Recomendation Thursday

Hello Book Lovers,

A couple of days ago the We Shall Be Monsters Kickstarter started and it’s kicking it at already past 50%. What is it, you ask?

We Shall Be Monsters: Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein Two Centuries On will feature a broad range of fiction stories, from direct interactions with Shelley’s texts to explorations of the stitched, assembled body and narrative experiments in monstrous creations. We Shall Be Monsters is a fiction collection that will feature explorations of disability through Frankenstein, queer and trans identity, ideas of race and colonialism. Shelley’s story provides a space for exploring a multitude of identities through the figure of the sympathetic outsider. Frankenstein’s “monster” is a figure of Otherness, and one that can tell stories of exclusion and social oppression.

The perks for this kickstarter include a $50 level where you get all 20 Renaissance Press ebooks, including all three of mine, on top of the anthology that looks amazing.

Go back them and get some amazing stuff!

 

See you at comiccon this weekend,

Éric

Blush: TSS and menstrual cups

I am a huge supporter of the use of menstrual cups. I have used a Diva Cup since 2008, and cannot imagine switching away from it. I talk about my foray into postnatal products here, as it is not safe to use insertable menstrual products after delivery, no matter the method of delivery.

The other day, one of my friends tagged me in a link to an article describing how cups are linked to increased bacteria. At first, I just brushed it off. ONE article does not concern me. But as I was thinking about what to write this week, I realized that I was biased. I should actually sit down and do the damn research myself.

And do you know what I found? Not much.

Not only is there next to no research done on the prevalence of bacteria found on cups, there doesn’t seem to be any plans of doing any research on this. Get on this, scientists!

Moving on…

Let’s examine what Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS) actually is. If you’re like me about an hour ago, you would say, “oh, TSS has something to do with leaving tampons in for a long time.”

You’d be partially right, but mostly wrong.

Yeah, I was surprised too.

TSS is actually caused by bacteria (specifically Staph and Strep) getting into the bloodstream and releasing harmful toxins.

This is a Giant Microbe of Staph. You can buy them here.

This means something super important: Toxic Shock Syndrome is NOT limited to tampon users.

What???

That was my reaction. Anybody can get TSS. Jim Henson died from TSS, and as far as I know, he did not use tampons.

Tampons are a pretty good breeding ground for bacteria, and in the 70’s, there was a chemical compound in the “super absorbent” tampons that really increased this. Once that compound was eliminated, the number of TSS cases reported dropped drastically. Removing tampons when directed helps, too.

Also, using a higher absorbency tampon than required can cause micro-abrasions inside the vagina, leading to a higher likelihood of the bad bacteria finding a way inside the bloodstream.

Okay. Now that we’ve cleared that up, what about bacteria on cups causing TSS?

According to my research (thanks Dorothy Ann), there has been one reported case of a person getting TSS while using a cup. It was in 2015, and it was reported that there was an abrasion inside the vagina at the time of use of the cup.

We already have Staph and Strep bacteria all over our bodies at all times. They’re mostly harmless. If they are allowed to grow as a colony, breed, and then slip into our bloodstream, there is STILL a pretty high likelihood that our white blood cells will fend them off. It’s once the bacteria release the poisonous toxins that there’s a problem, and scientists still don’t know what causes that!

Without any real hard scientific evidence to prove one way or another, we can’t say that Cups are better or worse than tampons at breeding bacteria. If you look at the original article I mention again, there’s a diagram showing the amount of bacteria found on tampons and cups, with the control being just a regular vagina. Look at how much Staph they found in a regular vagina, and compare it to the rest. There is almost as much or more Staph bacteria in a regular vagina as there is on a cup or tampon! Remember, this is NORMAL. The decreased amount of bacteria on the tampon is probably due to the change in pH of a vagina from the substances on the tampon. This is not necessarily a good thing. The pH of a vagina should be balanced. You WANT to find bacteria in there! (The good kind, obviously.)

This diagram is one of the reasons why I wanted to dismiss the article immediately. It doesn’t really show anything important.

But I’m glad I did the research, if only to realize how little research has actually been done. I’m surprised, even though vaginas are apparently a dirty word in research.

I will keep using my cup, washing it thoroughly with soap after every use. But honestly, I’m not too worried.


References

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/Toxic-shock-syndrome/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4556184/

https://www.popsci.com/toxic-shock-syndrome


If you’re enjoying the Blush blogs, consider learning more with Blush: The Card Game from Renaissance Press.

Ottawa Comiccon 2018

JenEric Coffee, JenEric Designs, and Éric Desmarais Author will all be at Ottawa Comiccon this weekend.

Come see us at booths 2505 and 2507!

We’ll have all kinds of wonderful crocheted item including these awesome baskets:

And we will have all these coffee flavours available:

 

We will have coffee samples so please come by and try something new.