Poison dart frogs!

This weekend, J got a pair of poison dart frogs!

The FIRST thing you need to know is, poison dart frogs raised in captivity are not poisonous. The toxin they excrete comes from insects in their diet in the wild. In captivity, they don’t eat those specific insects, and hence are not poisonous.

Phew.

The upside is, they are cute and adorable and fun!

The downside is, they eat specially-bred flightless fruit flies. This in-and-of-itself would not be a problem. However, the flightless sort are cross-fertile with the flying sort, and we have a localized population of those in the tank of giant millipedes. So the odds of an explosion in the household fruit fly population are … unfortunately quite good.

So.

We shall see!

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Well, that’s a diagnosis of sorts

For those of you following along at home, I have some sort of ongoing throat … issue. For a terrible week in February of this year I was diagnosed with throat cancer. (Which I don’t have, as it happens.) The last … year, more or less, has been an effort to figure out what’s wrong with my throat.

The latest throat biopsy results came in, and I have …

… da-da-daaah! …

… reactive lymphoplasmacytic infiltrate.

I recommend you don’t google it. All the results come back “sqaumous cell carcinoma,” which is the cancer diagnosis I had in February.

Which, I don’t have.

So, barring cancer, what “reactive lymphoplasmacytic infiltrate” means is “there’s weird gunk in your throat and the cells keep bursting and we don’t know why and it’s EVERYWHERE.”

So.

That’s a thing.

The next step is go talk to a rheumatologist. I’m not sure why? Possibly because they are simply out of ideas …

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We have got to be better than this

Executive function, for those of you unfamiliar with the term, is that part of the mental and cognitive load that handles high-order decisions. Executive function includes the ability to categorize things, to recognize similar features, to establish hierarchies, and to make decisions. Executive function is the thing that runs out when, at the end of a long day, you find yourself unable to decide between pizza or Chinese delivery for dinner.

Executive function is what lets us make the hard decisions.

Now, I always liked to think of my executive function as somehow separate from my feelings. (Of course, personally speaking, I like to think of EVERYTHING as separate from my feelings. But that’s a different topic.) I liked to think that I could make decisions based on facts and values, and that my feelings in the matter would not make a difference in the outcome.

This is silly. I was wrong.

When Elise Matthesen reported Jim Frenkel to Wiscon staff for harassment, I had lots of feelings. Elise is a friend. Frenkel had made many of my friends uncomfortable over many years. I knew where I stood. What I felt like doing and what I believed to be the right thing to do were in alignment. All my decisions were easy ones. There was no strain on my executive function.

When it came clear that Wiscon as an institution had not handled the harassment in ways I supported, I felt more conflict. I am friends with the people who run Wiscon. I wanted to believe better of them. I … didn’t want to call them out. I wanted them to take better actions without me having to say anything negative. Knowing what I wanted to do was in conflict with how I felt, and it made the decisions harder.

I said recently that I know my generation has come into power because we are the ones screwing up.

And yet.

And yet.

And yet we have to be better than this.

The fact that it is hard does not mean we can avoid doing it.

The fact that implementing sexual harassment policies is difficult, the fact that it involves our friends, neighbors, coworkers, or loved ones, does not remove from us the burden of making the effort.

We must change our culture. We must stop supporting harassers and abusers. When we find them out, how do we prevent them from causing further harm? When they have apologized, made reparations, expressed contrition, and effected personal change, how do we let them back in? We must let our communities know that we will investigate harassment reports responsibly. That there will be appropriate consequences.

We all have to do this together, whether or not we are on concoms and boards. We all have to educate ourselves on appropriate actions, on reporting, on supportive things to say to victims of assault and harassment. We can be a part of the process. We all have to decide to be better than we are now.

I know it’s hard. It strains the executive function, trying to figure out what to do. But we can be better than this.

Think of the last convention you were at.

A sexual assault occurs on average every two minutes.

How many people were at this convention? How many minutes did it encompass?

How many people were sexually assaulted at the last convention you attended?

Groped. Verbally harassed. Grabbed. Touched. Intimidated. Threatened. Forced. Raped.

Every two minutes, remember.

Tick, tick.

We have got to be better than this.

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Back from CONvergence!

Well, that was a WEEKEND.

I realized that, weirdly enough, CONvergence is my personal relaxacon. I never schedule anything important or serious, I never make firm plans. I see friends, I do some fan panels, I buy stuff in the Dealer’s Room, I take pictures of cosplayers. I spend time relaxing in a hotel room.

It’s really lovely.

Some key features of this year’s con:

In very sad news, former Head of Parties, Tish, died over the weekend. The details I have heard are distressing, but are ninety-seventh-hand gossip, and you can go ask somebody who would know better if you want more information.

Attendance was around 6500, more or less.

Everyone was talking about the high quality of programming this year. Everyone. CVG used to be the convention I went to with the worst programming, in my opinion. That is by far no longer the case. Panelists were informed and thoughtful, the topics were interesting and extremely varied. There really is something for nearly everyone.

I deeply approve of the one-way-hallways in the party circuit. It makes the parties possible to navigate. I approve. And I approve of Cow Asylum on Thursday, publicly shaming people who were going the wrong way.

There was a Carol Corps meet-up! It was lovely to see some of my fellow enthusiasts, however briefly. (I was running to a panel I was on, my apologies!)

Essentially, the convention is big enough that you can find the convention you want to attend buried inside of it. I really enjoyed it this year.

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Still at CONvergence —

… so have DJ Earworm’s “Mash Up for What.”

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CONvergence is HERE!

CONvergence starts today!

I will be there!

I CAN’T TALK. Or, not very well. I had a surgical throat biopsy on Monday, and my throat is recovering. Forgive me if I am not the best conversationalist, I beg you!

Follow me on Twitter @sigridellis for my at-con tweets.

CONvergence starts today! Yay!

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Sometimes history breaks my heart

I am always, always learning things about the world that I didn’t know before.

This week I learned about the 1923 Great Kanto Earthquake in Japan.

It was horrible. The earthquake hit, then the region burned, then the tsunami crushed everything, then the riots and ethnic violence began.

Sometimes history just breaks my heart.

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