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Day 355: Nostalgia for the unsentimental

Memories

One of the oldest photos I still have, it seemed appropriate for the post today.

To say I had a whirlwind of a life would be an understatement. Until my mid-twenties I moved at minimum once every two years. Not just moved across town, as in moved states. To be fair, as a kid it was bouncing between a few states. It wasn’t until adulthood that I started moving further away. Oddly enough, it wasn’t by choice, life just seemed to get in the way of staying in one place long enough to settle in.

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Day 354: Even more paper edits…

bad writer

These feels brought to you by: phdcomics

Whhhhhyyyy!!! Okay it’s not that bad, or maybe it is. I have yet more paper edits to do. It’s frustrating I just really want to be done with this paper and it doesn’t seem to want to end. I’m trying to keep my eye on the prize and do this right, it’s just soooo freaking difficult. I just want this done.

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Day 353: Experimental prep

Matlab

Sometimes a parfor loop in just doesn’t cut it because the things you want to do in that loop aren’t allowed (like save or load data a certain way). In those cases (see above) I can run multiple instances of MATLAB and process my data much more efficiently than if I did it one at a time. In this case I had 8 subjects that needed a rather long mathematical operation performed, so I did it all at the same time. It’s a little silly, but it worked! If you didn’t know you could do that, now you do!

Yesterday I told the story of how we got to this point, a long two year journey and next week I finally get to take the next step. It’s exciting, but it also means because of my flare-up, I’m behind on what I need to do to be ready. Not to worry though, I’m taking it slow so I don’t make whatever I have worse. What goes into an experiment like this? I’m glad you asked!

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Day 352: My experiment is coming!!

EEG Cap

I just really like how this photo came out. Here’s one of my lab mates gelling the electrodes for a pseudo-experiment. The scary looking syringe has a blunt tipped needle, we don’t break the skin in our lab so no pain, just a bit of gel to wash out of the hair once completed.

Okay I’ve got an experiment update today and I’m really excited to share because it feels real finally. I know I already wrote about some of this, but when I reread my previous post, it felt disjointed so let’s go over how we got here and what’s coming. I’m excited, are you excited? I’m excited!

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Day 351: Digital color

Online persona

Anger, after thinking about it, it was anger I felt. Not at anyone in particular, but I was angry and hurt and a lot of other similar emotions, but I was angry most of all. People kept letting me down and it took a chance twitter conversation for me to realize why I was yet again left feeling so fucking angry.

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Day 350: In construction…

extruder

I redesigned my extruder to make it beefier, this has nothing to do with the post, but I’m really proud of it and wanted to share. Haha

Well today despite feeling like refried dog poop I have to go do experiments. It’s part of the job and to be honest I want to do it even though I feel like dried monkey vomit. I could go on, but you get the picture. I do have some more good news not related to yesterday’s news. So that is the conversation for the day.

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Day 349: A story in three emails

Drowning

I was awarded something, we’ll get to the what shortly. I was awarded something and I was excited because it felt like validation of my work. It felt good to have people take notice of my accomplishments. There are precious few times in my life where I’ve got to feel like someone selected me out of a group as exceptional. Here I was being nominated for something! I was walking in the clouds. I could do anything, be ANYTHING.

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Day 348: Solid Modeling – Week 8

Finished Lamp

Left my lamp on in case you needed some light. While we didn’t finish the lamp today (boo) we got pretty far. We’ll finish it next week, but I don’t feel well so I needed to stop, sorry!

Welcome back or maybe welcome aboard! This is week eight of my online solid modeling course. As always we use FREE SOFTWARE for this class so no matter who you are, if you have internet access you can do this (seriously, it’s all cloud based so you don’t even need a fast computer!). If you’re just finding my little corner of the internet, never fear you can find all the courses in the super useful Solid Modeling for Beginners category. They get listed in reverse order, so work your way up from the bottom. Now that we’ve finished the intro let’s dive in!

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Day 347: The precipice of … something

precipice

Today is a mash of things, because frankly I still am not feeling good. My the scaly bits on my hands, face, and apparently elbows (missed that one until last night) haven’t gotten worse (yay), but they haven’t gotten better either (boo). On one hand it’s a realization that whatever is wrong with me was worse than I had thought, on the other, the world still moves forward and unfortunately I have work to do, so what’s a guy to do?

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Day 346: What is going on with me?

exhaustion

It’s going to sound like depression. I realize that as we dive into today. I don’t normally do this, but I’m rewriting this intro because I know what it sounds like. It’s not that, this is something else and it worries me. I know depression, I’m good friends with depression, this is something different so don’t tell me it’s depression, it’s not I promise. It just happens to be worse than I can ever remember right as I’m dealing with the worst flare up [of whatever I have going on] in my entire life, so it couldn’t be a coincidence … could it?

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Day 345: Undergrad research presentations

Virtual classroom

Well today is day one of three for wrapping up our undergrad/high school research experience. We had a group of about 50 I think, just in our lab and a good portion of them were high school students. Because we’re living in a pandemic, this was all done virtually! Today we get the first glimpse into how we did as mentors.

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Day 344: In which we are reminded I’m not that smart

Depression

It will pass, it always does, but for now I feel like I’ve been punched in the gut. I don’t enjoy the feeling of being average, or more than likely below average. It means I have to do twice the work for half the result. I see genuine greatness and know that no matter how hard I try, that will always be out of reach for me. What do you do when you want something so bad you would die to get it and you know you will never reach your goal?

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Day 343: On lab equipment

BrokenLaser1

Luckily this wasn’t my fault, but it does make for a good story now.

It was bound to happen eventually. We all knew it would, but we didn’t expect it to fail in such a spectacular manner. That is to say, all at once. One of the people I’m mentoring checked out some lab equipment since we had come up with a way to do experiments from the comfort (see: safety) of her home. That was the plan anyway…

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Day 342: When stress hurts

Drawing of a man with cracks forming at the back of the neck. He looks sad, looking down.

I have a lot of disabilities. Some are more debilitating than others for sure, most are just annoyances or give me weird quirks that people sometimes are frustrated with, other times get a laugh from. For the past few days I’ve been dealing with a flare up so bad I’ve never experienced anything like it in my life. It was a painful reminder that I was in fact stressed.

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Day 341: Solid Modeling – Week 7

Lamp Render

If you’re following along you’ve made it to week seven! This course is taught using FREE SOFTWARE so if you ever wanted to learn how to solid model, this course is the one for you. If you’re just joining then you can find all of our classes listed here in our Solid Modeling for Beginners category. They are in reverse order, so start at the bottom. Today we are setting aside our lightbulb for a moment to create something to put it in. I’ve given up keeping what we’re doing a secret (since I always put the final product in the header image anyway). So with that let’s get to it!

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Day 340: Writing… a lot.

once upon

This is how I start all my technical writing.

Another day, another set of problems. So what better way to put off my writing for the day than to write about not wanting to write. I feel like I’m living in a meme all of a sudden. Today I’ve got about 4353453421 things to write, give or take 4. Is it odd that I would rather be writing this than any of the stuff that matters?

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Day 339: What will school look like?

School

Here in the US we paused, it was only for a moment, it wasn’t long enough, and not everyone did it, but we paused. Then just as quickly as we tried to adapt to the changing times we went back to pretending everything was normal. Beaches opened, restaurants opened, bars opened, we saw celebrations and parties and we ignored a single digit daily death count, which turned into a double digit, then triple digit, now we’re hovering in at roughly 1000 deaths a day from the pandemic.

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Day 338: Feeling stuck, again

feeling stuck

I’ve probably mentioned this before, but I feel stuck. With the pandemic going on and the protests (Which are still happening!) I don’t feel like there has been any forward movement in anything I’ve been involved with. I hate feeling like this, it’s so frustrating especially when I feel like I’m drowning in work to be done.

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Day 337: The end of summer mentoring

virtualconference

Still trying to get used to the idea of virtual conferences.

Well we still have a month of summer break left, but we do have the end of summer courses coming. In just a week we’re having our undergrad researcher conference (virtually of course). Everyone will get a 5 minute block to showcase their poster, talk about their experience, and get a chance to answer questions about the projects they worked on (another 5 minutes max). The whole thing will take three days to get though.

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Day 336: A close call

Teddy Bear wearing a face mask to protect against COVID-19 spread

Wear the mask!!

I was up bright and early today, 4:30am to be exact. We had two experiments planned for the day, one first thing in the morning, the other in the afternoon. Being the dependable person I am, I was up and out on time, arrived here early and setup to get started. That’s when it all fell apart.

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Day 335: Solid Modeling – Week 6

Light bulb render

Finishing our bulb today!! Wooo!!!

Welcome to week six! As always, this is a free class using FREE SOFTWARE. If you want to learn how to solid model, but couldn’t afford fancy or expensive software, then this course is for you. We’ll be taking things step by step so you (hopefully) will be able to follow along easily. If this is your first visit to my lovely series, then I would suggest you start at week one, which you can find in our incredibly helpful category Solid Modeling for Beginners. Today we’re going to finish our project from last week and make a super neat light bulb!

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Day 334: 3D printing, my final summer class

Robot parts

One of the slides I used in my 3D printing course, this was the robot I designed and 3D printed (prior to assembly) for my Masters degree.

Well I got a chance to give my last lecture yesterday (virtually of course) on 3D printing. I worked literally weeks to get everything ready and it went off (mostly) without a hitch. The world of 3D printing is full of vast, multifaceted, and divergent technologies with more applications than I could possibly list in a single lecture. In fact, they offer entire 12 week courses on 3D printing, so I had to cram everything together into a nice 1-2 hour presentation, where to start?!

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Day 333: Solid modeling course day 3

3D printer

My 3D printer still working hard, but I’m still having troubles!

Yesterday was the last day for my solid modeling class and surprisingly I got more questions than the previous days so that made me very happy. Today is my 3D printing course, so we’ll talk about how that went tomorrow (and push back our online 3D printing course by a day sadly).

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Day 332: Solid modeling course day 2

Printer

Yep, still dealing with printing issues so I have the dual extruder on. Ugh!!!!!! 5 HOURS still left on this print. Why does 3D printing have to be so sloooooooow?!

Well yesterday was day 2 of my solid modeling course, today is my last day of the class. Unfortunately tomorrow is my 3D printing course and I still haven’t got my printer well behaved yet. I guess we get to see all the 3D printing troubles! In any case, let’s talk about how the class went yesterday and what I have planned for today.

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Day 331: Solid modeling course day 1

20200715_134927

The dual extruder attachment, the current bane of my existence!

Well can’t complain too much about the first course. I’m used to people talking to me so it was an odd feeling talking into a screen with no one talking back. I had a few questions, but mostly the course was on how to think about solid modeling, so maybe not a lot of room for questions?

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Day 330: I’m teaching this week!

Harbinger

I love mass effect, so I really thought this was a perfect header image for the post since I am… assuming control!

Well I mentioned it a few days ago, but it’s day one of four today. I’m teaching three courses on solid modeling and one on 3D printing * Shakes fist at 3D printer who keeps giving me problems * and I figure I can talk about how my classes go after the fact, but let’s talk about my prep for these classes so my students get the most out of what I have to teach them.

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Day 329: More 3D printing issues!

Cat boss

My boss is not happy with the work I’m doing, you can tell since she didn’t want to look at me when I took this photo.

I’m giving a class on 3D printing this week and of course my printer decides it wants to throw a fit. So my print had to be stopped (18 hours in) and the printer needed a good talking to. It’s not the printers fault, maintenance happens, so let’s talk more about my poor FDM printer (Acronym defined yesterday).

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Day 328: 3D printing… ugh

3D printing

Well it’s time, in a few short days I’ll be doing a marathon session of courses for the summer interns. I admit it I bit off a lot! I’m doing three solid modeling courses, so the basics, plus a 3D printing class. Today we’re talking 3D printing because, well it’s a headache even though the prints themselves can be worth the pain. I know if I can pull off printing what I’m working on now it will be worth it… I hope.

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Day 327: Solid Modeling – Week 5

Light bulb render

Okay everyone, I had a bright idea for our sphere… get it, get it!?!

Wow, week five already! As per my usual intro, this is a free class using FREE software so if you ever wanted to create a 3D model, this is for you and all you need is internet access to use the program we will be using. Now if you are just joining you’re going to want to start at week one, which you can find all the posts in the super lovely Solid Modeling for Beginners category. We finally did it, last week we made something cool looking! Today we’re going to expand on that and use what we learned to create another awesome thing!

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Day 326: Review: The state of spinal cord research

Figure 2 from and yet it moves

Facilitation of stepping-like volitional oscillations using non-invasive transcutaneous electrical spinal cord stimulation in SCI subject. (A) Position of the participant in the gravity-neutral apparatus. (B) Biphasic electrical stimulation was delivered using unique waveforms consisting of 0.3–1.0 ms bursts filled by 10 kHz frequency that were administered at 5–40 Hz. (C) EMG activity of right soleus (RSol), right tibialis anterior (RTA), right medial gastrocnemius (RMG), right hamstrings (RHam), right vastus lateralis (RVL), right rectus femoris (RRF) and angular displacement in the knee and hip joints of both legs during leg oscillations with a voluntary effort alone (Vol), stimulation at T11 (Stim), and Vol + Stim are shown. (D) Schematics demonstrating the approximate location of transcutaneous electrodes above the lumbosacral enlargement, in relation to the location of the motor pools based on Kendall et al. (1993) and Sharrard (1964).

Well it’s been two weeks (roughly) and my PI asked specifically that this week I do a review on the state of spinal cord research, with emphasis on the spinal cord stimulation work I’m doing. So this review is going to look slightly different, namely it has a rather long references section (15 total). If you find this research fascinating I recommend “And yet it moves” (reference 5). It’s long, but open access and worth the read. I’m a little bias though, my Co-PI is one of the authors. In any case, I had two weeks to write this, so hopefully it is a good dip into what we know about the spinal cord and a lot of what we don’t. Enjoy!

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Day 325: Religious freedom and you

Bill-of-Rights

I’m not here to tell you how to live your life. Then again, that’s the point of the post. The United States was founded on the idea that we can believe, or not believe, whatever we want and the government would not do anything to impose one religion on people above any other. We’ve failed miserably, but that was decades in the making.

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Day 324: Rewriting

edits

Today is a bunch of meetings and a bunch of editing. As I mentioned (or at least think I mentioned here), I had to meet with the senior author for the paper I’m working on and I got a lot of feedback, some of it was good, most of it meant more work for me. That’s the process though, write, rewrite, re-re-re-re…rewrite.

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Day 323: Skype a Scientist!

wiring

Today is going to be fun, I’ve got a ton of meetings, but I also get to do outreach. If you’re a scientist, you can do it too, no matter where you are in the field, sign up at Skype a Scientist. While I wanted to write this post before my sessions I ended up having to write it afterwards so let’s get into what I talk about and how it went.

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Day 322: Stuck

hamster wheel

Ever feel like you’re just going around in circles like a hamster in a wheel? I’ve been working on about a million different things and I just can’t seem to get them off my plate. The work just keeps going and it’s got me somewhat down. Maybe I just need a day off or something.

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Day 321:Wear the damn mask

Daily Life In Belgium Amid Coronavirus Outbreak

Today is just a simple plea to my readers. Wear the damn mask. It’s not that hard. When you go out you put on your clothes, you can put on a mask too. Since people seem to be making this a political statement now, I guess I can explain why it’s not one.

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Day 320: Solid Modeling – Week 4

Finished Rocket

We’re making something a little more exciting than a cube today. Yay!

Welcome to week four! For those of us just tuning in, this is a class for solid modeling using FREE software, so if you have internet access, you can do this too! You can find the whole course in the handy Solid Modeling for Beginners category. Last week we introduced a whole lot of navigation tools and helped you get situated into the world that you’ll be able to model in. So let’s get started by doing a quick recap of the past weeks and hopefully you’ve done your homework because we’re using that part today to make something more impressive than a cube.

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Day 319: The (dis)information age

misinformation

Look around, we’re drowning in information. It’s an overload, we literally were not made to absorb this much information all at once. News stories bombard us with new bits of it. Social media is full of it. Ads promise you forbidden knowledge with this one weird trick. It’s no surprise it’s hard to tell what’s real.

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Day 318: The why.

parts

With everything going on it’s been tough to write about just one topic. When I started 365 days, I started it with the intention of highlighting my struggles and trials through one full year of my PhD with the idea that I may (or may not) keep going for the duration of my PhD process. Then COVID hit, Black lives matter protests took off (finally), and I had the realization that I, like most people, am more than just my studies.

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Day 317: Mental health and you

neural symphony

I scream it loudly from the mountain tops, I suffer all the fucking time from mental health issues. I do it because staying silent doesn’t keep me from feeling them and it does nothing for others who are suffering. Yes, it’s embarrassing to talk about it because it feels like a taboo, or something you’re making up, but that’s why we need to talk about it and why you need to keep track of your own mental health.

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Day 316: Internships in the pandemic

Distance learning

For those of you not in academia, summertime means we get interns in the lab to learn about how research works in a real-life setting. We typically have them help with things that require basic skills, but lets them see how research really happens. This year, we are doing everything virtually thanks to COVID-19. This is a great thing because it really means we’re doing what we can to stop the spread while still giving students a chance to experience research.

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Day 315: Neural Engineering in a pandemic

pandemic PPE

For the past week or so my PI has been away, so I’ve had the chance to work on other projects from home. Unfortunately he returns this week so I’ve got to switch gears from protests, working from home, and undergrad mentoring back to experiments and experimental setup. As the senior student in the lab, I’ve got a lot of responsibilities.

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Day 314: It’s all part of the act…

Ringleader

Step right up boys and girls! Hurry, hurry to the greatest performance you’ll ever see… Who doesn’t love a good show, right? I mean you get to escape reality for a moment, forget your troubles, and see a whole different world. Unfortunately, once the show is over, it’s business as usual and that can’t happen, not this time. So why are the people in charge doing the same song and dance?

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Day 313: Solid Modeling – Week 3

 

Sketchup planes

This course will all be taught using free software so have no fear, you can do it too! For those just joining us you can find all the posts in this series in the handy Solid modeling for beginners category. For the past two weeks I’ve been going over best practices. The reason is the tools are straightforward to learn, but how we use them is what separates someone who is learning from someone who is a pro. I have had some thoughts about what I wanted to cover this week for that reason, but this week we’re making something and by me we, I mean you! First, let’s do a quick recap of what we’ve learned and we can get started.

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Day 312: Yes, the protests are still going…

George floyd

It still appears there is a media blackout on the protests (first mentioned in my other post). That doesn’t mean we’ve stopped though! It also unfortunately doesn’t mean the police have stopped. In fact we’re seeing some really… umm scary tactics being used by the police to * checks notes * beat us until we stop protesting police violence.

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Day 311: When voting isn’t enough

Gerrymander

Rawr! Beware, the Gerry-mander!

I’ve been debating about writing this post and it’s just been rattling around in my head for the past month or so. Voting can change the course of history, frankly we saw that in the 2016 elections, but we also saw something else. Your vote doesn’t matter and that isn’t by accident. But wait, I just said voting can change the course of history, so how does it not matter? Well for that we need to go back, way back.

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Day 310: Review – Interfacing with alpha motor neurons in spinal cord injury patients

Figure 1 from the paper showing EMG recordings and the transformation using deconvolution to motor neuron spike trains

Spatiotemporal spinal maps of ipsilateral a-MNs. (A) Experimental set-up for ankle plantar flexion. (B) HD-EMG is decomposed into a-MN spike trains using a convolutive blind-source separation technique. (C) The spinal output to generate the neural drive to muscles is estimated from the a-MN spike trains.

The world is on fire, we’re protesting for a future, but today I have my review paper due so instead of writing about my frustrations I’m going to share my review. Today we’re looking at the effects of trans-spinal direct current stimulation (tsDCS) on alpha motor neurons and how we can determine that effect using electromyography. It’s actually a very cool paper, the work is well done, and it’s open source so you can read it if you’re interested.

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Day 309: No tests, no worries

head in sand

If I ignore my bills, I would have very few, if any. If that logic seems, well wrong, then I’m not surprised. Ignoring something doesn’t make it magically go away. Yet, Trump has touted, yet again, that if we slowed or stopped testing, we would have very few, if any cases of COVID19. I mean, with that kind of logic, you could have no more bills with this one weird trick!

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Day 308: Don’t be ableist

trump water

Believe it or not, there are some people who can’t even lift a hand, much less hold a glass of water.

For those of you just tuning into my corner of the internet, I’m a disabled vet. If you looked at me most days you wouldn’t know it, but not all disabilities are visible and my TBI, back issues, shoulder issues, knee issues, chronic pain, chronic fatigue, memory problems, PTSD, aphasia … I could keep going, but you get the idea. My disabilities are (mostly) not visible. So today I have a very simple request, don’t be ableist.

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Day 307: COVID19 and BLM or why you should wear a mask

statue

Despite the media blackout the Black lives matter protests are still going strong. To say I’m proud would be an understatement. Unfortunately with all the protests going on people are claiming that COVID19 isn’t as bad as people said it was, or that the protesters should stop because of the pandemic. The critiques all miss the point, this one simple trick will slow the transmission and it really works.

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Day 306: Solid Modeling – Week 2

part 18

We’re back again with week 2 of solid modeling for beginners! For those of you just joining in, you can read the introduction (pre-week 1) in this post. You can also find all the posts in this series (including week 1) in the Solid modeling for beginners category. Solid modeling isn’t too difficult, but it does take time and it does mean you need to learn to think about objects in different ways. Week 1 did a great job of introducing this type of thought process and today we’re going to continue from where that left off. Let’s just dive right in!

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