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

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

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

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.

Our Society’s Obsession with Simple

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

I’m a skeptical person. If someone tells me that moon dust will cure my allergies, I’ll be hopeful but will wait for the data.

I’m also trained in media analysis so every once in a while I’ll see something that makes me wonder why. Today I saw a Lays truck that was designed to look like an old fashioned potato truck.

It’s a common technic in advertising. It gives the viewer an association with something classic, natural, simple, and/or unprocessed. It’s the reason McDonalds runs ads about their eggs being local and toilet paper almost always has a nature theme. It’s the reason JenEric Coffee uses craft bags for packaging.

But why? Why are we so obsessed with what is natural and simple?

Despite the amazing increases in life expectancy and quality, people still have fantasies about the “good old days.” It’s definitely not a new thing; the Romantics worshiped the medieval period and wanted a return to nature. The classicist wanted the same with the classic period, etc.

In my opinion, it’s a combination of fear of change, nostalgia, and impotence.

We are afraid of change as people; I get really angry when my favourite shampoo is changed or unavailable. We like things the way we do and we don’t like losing control of the change.

Nostalgia paints everything in a wonderful light. Just take the paleo diet as an example. It’s the healthiest way to eat… unless you remember that they died at an age younger than most of us graduate high school. It’s also what makes re-watching certain movies and tv shows so painful or why people love to hate reboots.

There is a special kind of feeling that comes from not being able to work a new piece of technology. It gets worse if you try to understand exactly how it works. Most of us are specialized in our fields and don’t have the energy or ability to be experts in everything. That leaves us feeling impotent.

 

When you next see something and your gut reaction is to reject it because it’s too complex, processed, or confusing, take a moment to wonder why you feel like that and then decide if you’re being reasonable. Not all simple things are good, not all complex things are good.

If you are aware of your bias, you can start to watch for people who prey on your fears for their own gain.

 

Later days,

Éric

Life is okay, how are you?

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

Overall things are good. There are a few outstanding issues that are stressing me beyond belief (I’ll let you know if and when I can) but things are going well.

So what’s been happening?

Writing

My newest book is out. The Sign of Faust is available at Amazon and Renaissance Press.

I’m currently in the middle of writing the fourth book in the Elizabeth series and it’s moving. Slowly, but I’m getting words down and that’s what’s important.

Last year’s serial story and my novel Parasomnia are both eligible to be nominated for an Aurora. Go nominate them if you liked them. As are Fandom Travel and Travelling TARDIS.

Dragon and Family

The baby Dragon is doing well. She’s growing every day and yesterday was a super snugly day.

We went to Paris with my in-laws and that was awesome. You can read Jen’s thoughts on it here. It’s the first of 3 posts on the trip. I went 8 days without my cellphone and it was quite the experience.

Exciting Things

I have no big announcements at the moment and all the stuff I’m excited about are not from me. Incredibles 2 comes out this year and I look forward to playing the Lego game of it. I’m taking some time off in July for my birthday so I can hang out with Dragon and play video games. Maybe she’ll join me… Is 22 months old to young for videogames?

Did I mention I have a book out?

 

What’s happening in your lives?

Éric

New Coffee Flavours for Ottawa Comiccon

Hello Coffee Lovers,

We have three new flavours that will be available at Ottawa Comiccon.

  • Beanpool (A mixed roast with Canadian maple and and banana flavouring)
  • Minty Mountain (A medium roast with peppermint flavouring)
  • The Waking Dead (A dark roast without flavouring)

They will exclusively be available at Ottawa Comiccon the 11-13 of May. After that they will be available on our store.

 

Stay Caffeinated,

Éric

Aurora Awards Nominations 2018

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

Allow me to be completely shameless again. This year I have a book, a short story, and a few projects that are eligible for the Aurora Awards.

Aurora Awards

aurora

The Aurora Awards are awards, “for excellence in Science Fiction and Fantasy works and activities.” They are administered by the Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy Association.

It’s a fan voted award in the vein of the Hugo’s, but with way more awesome people.

You’ll have to join the CSFFA for a pittance of $10 before you can nominate anyone. Once you’ve paid, you can nominate 5 works in each category. You can nominate works from now until May 26th.

The extra bonus of joining the CSFFA is you’ll get a voters package that includes most of the works that make the ballot. That’s 8-10 novels plus a bunch of other awesome stuff.

What do we have that’s eligible

Novel

My second novel Parasomnia is eligible in the the novel category:

Short Fiction

Last year’s serial story is also eligible Database of Ageless Kings.

Fan Writing and Publication

Jen is eligible for Fandom Travel and The Travelling TARDIS in this category.

Recomendations

This year I’m only recommending things I’ve read, participated in, or watched.

Novels

YA Novels

Short Fiction

Fan Writing and Publication

Fan Organizational

Fan Related Work

 

Go Nominate Works and enjoy the amazing science fiction and fantasy that came out last year.

Éric

It’s Just Allergies

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

I have recently been no-so-subtly accused of faking sick. It’s not the first time and I’m sure it won’t be the last.

I’m used to the usual scenario where I mentioned to someone that I have severe allergies and they either nod condescendingly or roll their eyes.

I get it, seriously, if you’ve never had to deal with allergies it’s easy to dismiss. I mean the most common portrayal of people with allergies in movies and television are either ridiculous nerds or hypochondriacs, mostly both. (I’m looking at you Stargate SG1 and Stargate Atlantis.)

Even people with mild allergies don’t fully understand what it can be like. They’ll have the sniffles in spring or get red itchy eyes when they pet a cat.

I’ve lost track of the amount of times people have told me, “Oh yes, I’m allergic to cats too but you get used to it living with them.”

So here’s a short partial list of things I’m allergic to:

  • Cat hair and dander
  • Dog hair and dander
  • Oak pollen
  • Spruce pollen
  • Poplar pollen
  • Ragweed pollen
  • Grass itself and the pollen
  • Dust and Dust Mites
  • Mould
  • Bees
  • Mosquitos
  • Coconut milk and coconut oil

That’s the most common and it’s about a quarter of the things I’m allergic to. Also among the worst.

Symptoms

I am extremely lucky not to have anaphylaxis. My throat has never fully closed and I’ve never had a seizure. Every person reacts differently to allergies, despite what the commercials try to tell you.

My milder symptoms are mostly itchy ears, itchy eyes, cough, runny nose, itchy throat, and hives.

The more severe symptoms are nasal pressure, diarrhea, nausea, breathing difficulties, and sleepiness.

The absolute worst symptom is the weakness. When I get hit with a bad allergy attack I’m weak as a kitten. Before I got the shots, I had days were getting out of bed was such a struggle that I burst veins in both my eyes from the effort of sitting up. I always make the joke of, “Who turned up the gravity?” because it feels like everything is extra heavy and draining.

The weakness means that around Christmas time I usually feel like total shit. If that sounds odd think about what happens when business and people bring out decorations that have been in basements and attics, bring in dying trees, or bring out old dusty trees. What happens is the amount of indoor mould and dust skyrocket.

Linked Conditions

As if those symptoms aren’t bad enough, allergies cause and aggravate secondary conditions.

Oral Allergy Syndrome

This is a fun thing where your body thinks you’re ingesting your allergy when you eat something else. Basically, certain raw fruits and veggies have proteins that are similar to pollen.

If I eat a raw apple my tongue tingles and mouth itches because my body thinks I’m eating Oak pollen. Thankfully this doesn’t happen with cooked fruits. Before the shots, my throat would start to close.

My wife still laughs about the time I told her, “Isn’t it cool that celery is a little spicy?” Apparently it’s not supposed to be spicy.

IBS

I think it’s because my body is weakened but during a bad allergy day, my IBS becomes ten times worse.

Migraines

The nasal pressure combined with stress will trigger migraines. My vision blurs, I get dizzy, I lose sense of time, I feel like I’m going to puke, and my head hurts more than any pain I’ve experienced.

Anxiety, Depression, and Insomnia

This is a combination of antihistamines and fall out from the other symptoms.

It’s hard to concentrate or feel good about yourself when just going to the washroom is exhausting.

If I have a certain type of antihistamine, I get shaky, and feel like my entire body is vibrating. It lasts for 12 hours and makes sleeping hard.

Bad Day?

So I’ve talked about bad days. I’ll be completely honest that on my best day I still have most of the mild symptoms. That’s despite having done shots for 5 years and using antihistamines.

A bad day, however, happens if I am accidentally, or unavoidably, exposed to an allergen. Some it’s only once like coconut oil, coconut milk, or bug venom, some it has to be prolonged like dust, mould, or trees.

Either way, a bad is a day I can barely move, feel sick, and just generally want to die. I’ve done work during those days, but it’s not my best work since I’m totally out of it. Most of the time I have enough energy to watch tv, shower (the steam does wonders for my nose), and eat.

What Now?

So what do I want you to do about this? Nothing. I just wanted to vent and explain what it’s like being me. Hopefully it’ll make you more compassionate to people with allergies.

Mostly, if I tell you I’m not feeling well, know that I’m not lying.

 

Thank you for reading,

Éric

What I Learned Not Having a Phone for 8 Days

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

We recently went on a vacation to Paris. After looking into the roaming plans and their cost, we decided to leave our phones at home for the vacation.

I knew it would bug me, but I had no idea how or how I’d react.

A little background before we begin. I haven’t been without a cellphone since 2002. In high school, I was the dork with the digital organizer. I had an HTC-Dream in 2009 and remember Android 1.6 Cupcake. All that tells you I’m a little of a gadget nerd and haven’t been far from the convenience in almost a decade.

One of the first pictures I took and posted directly from my HTC-Dream to Facebook in October 2009. (604×402 pixels in size)

Like most people my age, I rarely make phone calls with my phone. Only when I have to or if I want to speak with my older relatives.

What I didn’t miss

I expected to miss the constant social connection of my phone, but it’s the part I missed the least. It was actually kind of nice to disconnect and ignore things that weren’t important.

I’m a little bit of a digital hoarder. Take for exemple that before this trip I had a mailing list subscription to TeeFury in 3 of my 5 emails.

The vacation and only being able to clean out my facebook and email once a day, sometimes less, gave me the push I needed to start cleaning out subscriptions, groups, and even a few friends.

What I have now is a quarter the amount of incoming emails and a lot less of an urge to check my phone every four seconds.

What I did miss but was glad I didn’t have

The camera on my phone is exceptional and I have a nasty habit of relying on it too much. I have a fantastic Mirrorless SLR and need to use it more often. No matter how good your phone’s camera is, at the moment, an SLR will be much better.

This forced me to reach into my bag and grab the camera instead of just pulling out my phone.

What I missed

Being able to search for random information, directions, locations, and even identify landmarks; was something I truly missed about my phone.

The ability to pull out my phone and be told what a landmark is and its history is extremely useful. Being able to ask where to find the closest café is extremely useful. Being able to find out the hours of operations for business over a holiday is useful.

I have terrible handwriting so being able to write a list for groceries on my phone is something that I love. The list is shared with my wife so if she forgets something while I’m out, she can add it to the list no problem.

Despite being French Canadian, there was a language barrier and some words I had no idea what they meant. It would have been nice to have a universal translator in my pocket for shopping.

We went to Paris with my in-laws and being able to separate without detailed plans of where and when to meet is something I greatly missed.

I also missed being able to listen to music, read, play games, and jot down ideas.

 

I still think that the roaming is excessively expensive, but I sure missed the convenience of having my phone.

Éric