All posts by Blogghoran

Permanently exhausted pigeon. Former politician. Learning to navigate exhaustion, race issues, patriarchy, colonialism, and disability. If you enjoyed any of these little article of musings, and would like me to be able to write them more, feel free to head over my patreon and check out the tiers there, $1 can go a long way! alternatively, check out my support page for more info.

Staying casual in the intentional

I decided to focus on writing more.

It’s easy to find yourself wanting to only produce marketable content™.

And then I remembered that a lot of you are here reading because you like the words I have put out in the past.

Not all of that was marketable content™.

Sometimes it’s just words scattered on the page, on a page, on any page.

Even on days when that big article is on the back burner, because I already processed a lot of it today, I can write something like this.

It doesn’t have to be fancy, or perfect, or well thought out.

It can just chase a feeling down the page.

Getting more poem like with each stroke.

Stroking my touch screen keyboard, swiping the words, producing a melody.

Or entirely failing to produce one.

I don’t always have to perform and be perfect.

I don’t always have to achieve. I can just be.

You can just be.

We can all be together and share small things of ourselves that we recognize as each other, but also us.

You see yourself in me, knowing that you’re not alone.

Knowing that there are other voices out there, hurting or laughing just like you are.

You know that they have gone through what you’re going through right now, and somehow they survived.

That means that you can survive too, and take a few more steps to get through today.

And then down the line, when these words still sounds like waves flowing over the sand.

Flowing over my touch screen keyboard as I swype, or swipe these words, producing more melodies.

Bunched up with memories, you get to share your story to someone else.

Who’s just like you, when you first heard those words many years ago, when you realized you weren’t alone.

Now they know too.

You do not have to write a blog post only to publish marketable content™.

You can just be you.


This poem was not sponsored by my patrons, but it could be in the future. If you would like me to be able to write more of them, feel free to head over my patreon and check out the tiers there, $2 will hopefully eventually start sending poetry straight into your inbox! (it’s a process)
Alternatively, check out my support page for more info.

Admitting Defeat: this is a rough one

CW: suicidal ideation, capitalism, chronic illness.

A friend reached out to us, in our shared community, after having struggled with emotions around their chronic illness around the new year. The New Year always comes with resolutions, people making big plans for the year to come, and for some of us with chronic illnesses, especially ME/CFS, it often means coming face to face with the fact that we can’t produce anything of worth. I say this in this way because this is basically what capitalism has taught us. If we can not work a full time job, or even a part time job, we are of no worth. This is something which is incredibly hard to disengage from, and avoid feeling when you’re feeling vulnerable, and unable to perform and “contribute the way you should to society”.

The person who posted this, and made me think about it, shares a lot of wonderful thing with us in our community, and they are definitely contributing something valuable to people around them. Everyone has something to contribute, and I guess a more socialist or even communist view of it would be to see how we all affect each other and contribute to each others well being, even if we can’t all do the same physical or mental activities.

When I am reminded of this, the dread also creeps up on me occasionally. And sometimes it also brings me ideas of suicide. Thinking what purpose do I have, if I’m only a burden, wouldn’t it be better if I wasn’t here, if I wasn’t taking up space? It’s easy to hit that wall once in a while. Some things we try to not think about because they’ll only make us want to kill ourselves. No, I’m not speaking for everyone with a disability, but I do feel from what I’ve seen other people talk about that I am not alone in this.

I’m currently in a situation in my life where me and my partner is looking for a house or flat to buy, and we need money, and a mortgage to be able to do so. Me not having an income, and not being able to take a normal job without great risk to my health, is becoming a problem, and it’s becoming a problem for me personally because it’s causing me pain every day. Even if I know I can’t work, I still started to look at jobs and trainee positions, and especially equal opportunity employers.

So, while it’s possible to think of it as only mind ghosts, it’s also a reality of pressure we find ourselves in. What can we contribute or produce to be allowed to live?

This also reminded me about my own goals, that I had in the 3rd quarter of 2019, when I relaunched my Patreon. At the time I was high on a summer of energy, and recovery and being so much more healthy than I had been in years. I was ready to take on something new, and I felt like the week of conferences had proved that to me. I was ready to head out and do all the things. Then I was hit with the flu, slipping down the stairs, another cold, and winter stomach flu in the span of 2 months, and it really drained me. The last one was just around Christmas, and I’m still recovering from it all.

So, what about admitting defeat? I have felt defeated by my intentional goal of actually going out and seeing the world and attending these conferences, but having been unable to for the past 4 months. Therefor I’m deciding, for my own health’s sake, to take a step back, and focus on what works for me. To focus on what I can do right now. And I know that I can write right now.

Since I don’t know how much I can write yet, I want to set the goal a bit smaller than I would’ve attempted otherwise, and it is that I want to write one bigger thing once a month. One article that I work on through the weeks, and if I have 2-3 shitty weeks that month I should still be able to publish something.

As you can tell, I’m still feeling the need to produce something of value, even though I said what I said at the beginning of the post. If you follow me over on Mastodon, you may have just seen me published a big thread about asking for support, so I am going to end this blog post with an actual call to action, where, if you read a few blog post last year from here, or just read this and felt struck by it, and recognize yourself in it the idea of labour being the only measure of worth, please consider supporting me on Patreon, Liberapay or Ko-fi, a monthly donation if you can, of even just $1, will go a long way to help me settle into my new life, and let me focus on something that has always been with me, and that’s writing and connecting with people.

I hope to connect with more of you when sharing my thoughts and reflections on things and topics. If you’re curious about other writings I’ve done here’s a sample:

“Tech”:
Activity Pub (the Conference)
On Mastodon and Nazis
“Political”:
On Bi Visibility
Deradicalization and who can safely do it
Vi ska inte behöva… (in Swedish, about healthcare)
Poetry-ish:
When Life Beats You Up
Crutches
A Whiff of Fallen Leaves
Sick and Sick

Thank you for listening.

What a year 2019 has been!

This has been one heck of a year, for a lot of reasons. Very few things went as planned, but over all it has been a very giving and interesting year. I want to sum up some major plot points in my life, and reflect on it slightly. This may end up much longer than I intended, but here goes!

January through March

The beginning of the year was kind of hectic, I was still studying while very fatigued and I managed to hurt my arm just before an exam which made everything extra hard. I spent time with some of the other students who failed that same exam and we did our best to get through the re-exam. This hiccup meant I wasn’t getting my student loan in the beginning of the year, which was a bit painful. By a bit I mean very painful. Being without money caused a lot of internal, if not external, panic.

In early February, which was when that re-exam took place, my partner went home to the UK for Lunar New Year. I had completed my Bachelor’s paper the spring before, but needed one more course to complete the actual degree, I took those points during the fall. So, by now I had sent in to get my certificate and it arrived while my partner was away. It had happened, I had finished my degree!

When he came back to Sweden one of the first things he said to me was that he wanted us to move back to the UK. It was something we’d talked about a few times and decided against, until now (then). We had just found out that his sister was pregnant, which was also one of the reasons we decided to move. It’s very rewarding being around infants and small children in general, so this was a big draw for me.
Another one of the reasons for us not moving back to the UK was that I had not finished my degree yet, which was why we lived in Sweden to begin with. With me receiving my degree certificate, it meant that I was now done. Even though I was currently enrolled in studies for a lot of practical reasons (but that’s another post which may or may not happen).

In January / February I also worked on reviving the ForkTogether project with a few other people. We published a blog post about it, where we announced the new name, Florence, and got to work. This blog post will probably not talk much more about Florence, but it’s a project that’s very dear to my heart, and something I will keep working on in 2020, as well, and our latest update is here.

Overall my health was pretty bad at the beginning of the year, I had very low energy and I couldn’t really do much, walking anywhere left me exhausted unless I wore compression socks. Over Christmas, my mother had offered to buy me compression tights to make my life easier, but since I had been considering going to see a private doctor I, in turn, asked her if she would be willing to put that money towards helping me go see one, as a way to look for the underlying cause instead of just treating symptoms. She agreed. I don’t remember when I actually made the appointment, but I made it for April 9th, a day before my birthday. And it was in Gothenburg where my mom lives, so I planned to go see her as well.

I don’t remember much of what I did in March. I know I was studying this term as well, but I don’t remember what we did. I’m going to assume I was trying to study as much as possible, while planning for moving to the UK, and spending time with my partner before he went over there. The plan was that he’d leave early April.

April, and the beginning of change

April came, he left to the UK a week before my appointment and I went to my mom’s place. We went to the doctor together, who had scheduled two hours for me. I was finally getting checked out properly for the first time in probably 7 years. Yes, the care centers had done some small things to help, but a lot of the time they just let things slide and we had to start the process all over again, and most of 2018 I had just given up on the Swedish health care system.

My appointment was in the afternoon, so I had missed the slot for some of the blood tests, and they sent me home with a kit to bring to any lab at any clinic. However, this did not go nearly as smooth as I would’ve liked it to. I ended up having to go to two different places and none of them knew what to do with the kit. Turns out that the instructions got lost somewhere along the way, they were supposed to be inside. Eventually I got the blood drawn and I got to go back home and rest.

At the appointment my new doctor and rheumatologist had quickly diagnosed a few things which felt obvious, EDS (Ehlers-Danlos syndrome), and a high possibility of Fibromyalgia, she suspected psoriasis but mainly in the nails. I was also given cortisone to rule out other rheumatic issues. The blood tests would later show that I also had hypothyroidism.

Towards the end of April I received medicine for hypothyroidism, Levothyroxine, and it started making a difference within 3 days. Which was when I noticed it by biking. Biking had been something that while it was easier on a lot of my other body parts, like knees, hips and neck, it still always felt like I was dying. Not because I couldn’t breath, but rather because I didn’t have energy in my muscles. That said, breathing was hard too, but more like a weight on my chest. I had never been able to fully put it into words, and most definitely thought that I had worn myself down so much that I couldn’t bike because I had 0 fitness. This was something which had stayed with me for 5 years, at varying degrees. Logically I should’ve known it wasn’t my fitness level, since in the beginning of this happening to me I was going to the swimming pool regularly. (I could go on a tangent here on how I most likely have POTS as well, as it’s common together with EDS, which was somewhat alleviated by the swimming pool because of the extra pressure it put on my body, remember me mentioning compression socks?) Going to the pool was the few moments I felt sane. When I stopped going was when my health started to deteriorate more, and with less swimming, and less relief it was harder to go back to swimming and get that relief. Most of this I did not connect the dots on until quite recently.

So, it was the end of April and I could bike without feeling like I was dying. Mind you this was just the first step in getting stronger, as it improved over time. I had two other benchmarks which really helped me realize what a difference it made, the 2nd one is completely lost to me right now, but the 3rd one was biking on the highest gear without problem (I had been biking in the lowest gear for the past 3 years, at least).

In April I had also gotten in touch with someone who needed a dog sitter, and as such I met Hamilton. He became a staple of my daily life, and also helped me with some of the benchmarks in my health. I was still sick when I had accepted this, because I felt like if I’m home all day every day, unable to do anything, I may as well do that and make a small amount of money.

May and meeting Hamilton

In May I was still trying to stay up with school, and study. However about halfway through the month I threw both hands up in the air and said “FUCK IT, I need to live, and I’m finally able to do so”. I came to the realization that I had been residing in Malmö for 8 years, but I hadn’t LIVED in Malmö during most of that time. Now was my chance.

Most people that know me know that I’m polyamorous, it’s not something I hide, but for the sake of this particular blog post, I am not going to chronicle what I got up to once I got some underlying issues treated, and got energy back, while my partner was in a different country for 5 months (which is how long we stayed apart). I will however say that I was quite lovely to feel my sex-drive return, and me just being kind of high on life and willing to go out there and meet new people. And for the love of everything that is holy: Do not read this as I only went out to meet new people to have sexscapades with.

Anyways, I made friends with some more polyfolx, and went to two meetups, one which I arranged (for women and trans folx). The first one, the pub meetup, I met up with an enby whom I become close friends with on Facebook first. We talked about lot of things we had in common. And slowly it turned out that we were both the same age, and born in the same city. We doubled checked the early background, but we had not crossed paths in our youth, however we could connect to childhood memories with each other because of the spaces we had occupied while not at the same time. We had even moved the same path to end up in Malmö, and it was just very serendipitous moment to connect with them.

Towards the end of May there was a Poetry Slam competition in Malmö, the Swedish Championship. I went to that event alone, for 2 of the days I mostly hovered, and the 3rd day I dared to speak with people a bit more.

One of the evenings I went and sat at the bar at the afterparty afterwards, and just relished in the feeling that I could sit in a crowded and loud bar and not get completely exhausted from it. So I sat there alone and wrote for a few hours before I decided to go home.

The poetry slam did inspire me poetry wise, which is to be expected. I wasn’t able to get a lot of the inspiration channeled into anything, probably because at this point in my life I was all over the place. I was just about recovering energy and able to experience life, and after doing one thing I was always ready to go on to the next thing.

The last evening I made another friend whom I’m definitely still staying connected with. Another serendipity, we only started talking the very last night, but seemed to get each other very well and understand certain ways that the other thought or experienced certain types of things. It’s hard to explain, but I feel like we both managed to share an experience with each other that the other understood well.

The mornings I spent with Hamilton, and the afternoons and evenings I spent at the Poetry Slam. While the dog may not be written about a lot, he became very important to me during these summer months. He kept me company and forced me to rest when I needed it to. He’d insist on me sitting on the sofa with him instead of the computer. So I’d often sit down with a movie or series and have his big head in my lap. He was with me about 2-3 times / week.

June, July—Diagnosis confirmed

Now we’re up to June, as the Poetry Slam ended just at the beginning of June, and the summer really began to hit us. Very warm days started to come on, and I realized that Malmö is a very underrated Beach City. Like it’s less than a 20min walk from the city center (or central station) to the beach, by the ocean! And I began swimming regularly, almost daily, even starting a group on Facebook just for women (and trans people) looking for other people to go swimming with.

Now, I want to reconnect to some of my medical stuff that I was going through. I was following up with my doctor in early June, and while the cortisone hadn’t really done much while I was still exhausted from not getting energy from eating, I later asked my doctor for another course of the cortisone. This time my pain levels went down significantly. Unfortunately, while I was on this cortisone course I caught a really nasty cold. I had gone swimming in the ocean, which probably wasn’t the best idea, but I was just so happy to finally be able to live, and I had trouble stopping myself.

This cold lasted for almost a whole month (there’s more details here, but I lost my voice for 1.5 weeks among other things, and it wasn’t just one cold, but rather one cold and then a bacterial infection, bla bla), from end of June to mid-July, by which I received a course of antibiotics from my doctor in Gothenburg. I had noticed that the infection made most of my pain go away. And she was like, “okay that confirms you have an auto-immune”, at this point I was diagnosed with Psoriatic Arthritis.

I got prescribed Etoricoxib to take down the inflammation and reduce the pain. I think I was lucky to get prescribed this immediately, it happened that way because I already knew that my stomach was too sensitive for long term Ibuprofen. And considering I had just about recovered my stomach after 5 years of suffering with issues, I did not want to screw it up again. It actually worked very well, even if I’d complain in the afternoon that the pain meds stopped working. But days I did not take it were a lot worse, which helped keep me humble. It was prescribed to be taken every day.

So, the antibiotics helped me, and I began feeling better quite soon. My mom had noticed major changes in how much energy I had, but was still often very worried. However, she had her own benchmarks to notice what was up. She’d reflected on that after I was out and about I was still able to go with her to the store. In the past I’d rarely even been able to be out and about while visiting.

This had marked my 3rd visit to my mom’s place since the first doctors appointment. And it was lovely that I had the kind of energy where I could just pack up my bag and head to her place on very short notice. And I could go visit a lot of my old friends.

End of July, Seeing Old Friends

Speaking of visiting friends, in mid-July after this appointment and antibiotics I went on a big trip to visit friends and family, because I wanted to take the opportunity before I moved to another country.

For this trip, as I didn’t know if I was getting better yet, I only booked one leg of the journey at the time. I started in Gothenburg, since I had been to see my doctor. And over the next 2-3 weeks I went through 5 cities: Kristinehamn, Västerås, Stockholm, Falun, Gothenburg again, before I returned to Malmö. I had originally planned to go through Uppsala as well, but those plans had to change unfortunately, lucky I didn’t book all tickets in advance.

Through these cities I was visiting a load of old friends, catching up, going to museums, attending my first 40th birthday party of one of my friends, visited my grandmother’s grave, strolled through Stockholm on the hottest day of the year (thus far at least), went swimming a lot, worked on my tiny netbook (which a friend helped me install an ssd drive and Linux to revive it slightly), I got to spend time with my family, both my mom and my dad (who live in different cities) and my sisters, their family and kids.

At this point I was doing (and had been for a while) so much every day or every few days, compared to before I got any medicine, that my sense of time was very skewed. I had gone from being able to do one thing a week, usually going to class, and then spending the rest of the week at home, and now I easily did 3-5 things in a day, and rested to keep my balance. The biggest difference when it came to resting was that it could be enough to just lay down for 30min, in order to ground myself, or watch an episode or two of a TV series, before I was recharged enough to head back out on more adventures.

August, packing to move

Finally back in Malmö, it was already August, and it finally hit me. I was moving, and soon. I had only 3 weeks left, and it was time to get a battle plan together, I still hadn’t really started to pack that much stuff. At the same time I needed to wind down from my trip.

I honestly do not know how I managed to get through the last push of packing, selling and moving. I was lucky with a few things, I got the bed sold for a decent price, and a friend was just moving back from Sweden after a few years abroad, so she came by and bought a lot of my stuff.

There were some hiccups with the moving company, who wanted to come after I needed to be out of the house, and some fun things like that. Which were incredibly stressful.

At the end of it I just got through it thanks to pure stubbornness. I cried through some of the last of it. But the very last night, I was with one of my new friends, and we had really good food and watched a movie together (at their place because I was staying there), and they helped me just wind down, now that it was all over.

September, visiting Prague

In the middle of moving I went to Prague for a week, before I went to the UK. I was in Prague for 2 conferences, first something called Rebooting the Web of Trust, and the other conference was ActivityPub. This week I got to spend with old and new friends, but none of whom I’d ever met before.

It was an interesting week, which I definitely should’ve written it’s own blog post about, as I’ve not actually done much reflecting on Rebooting the Web of Trust, yet. And we’ll get to in this blog post why I haven’t nearly written as much as I would’ve liked to this autumn.

I made two very good new friends, people whom before that week was even over felt like I’d known forever, and they seemed to feel the same thing. And the other people who I spent a lot of that week with definitely are closer to me now than they were before.

I think one of the biggest things for me this week was, balancing and recovering from the moving stuff, even if I was in the middle of it, and busy with these two events. I was definitely testing my boundaries, and stretching them, in a way which was definitely risky.

I was invited to come to Prague as a speaker for the ActivityPub Conference. And it was a great experience meeting everyone, as well as finishing off the week in Prague with all these people working on different things within the same space. I even wrote a really big blog post about it.

Entering the UK

I arrived after a really long week, and a long day, at the Manchester Airport. In Prague I had tried to get on the wrong plane because I was just completely drained, and then I started crying because… well I was completely drained and stressed out. Luckily I caught the right plane, and I was finally seeing my partner of 5 years, after being apart for 5 months.

When I first arrived I just slept, for a week probably. I was just so tired. I kept being tired, and even into October I wasn’t feeling better. And I began to worry that I had screwed up, that I had burnt myself out even more by doing all the things I did during the summer.

Lucky for me it turned out that I was on a too low dose on one of my medicines because me and my doctor had experimented with a lower dose, but because of the move we hadn’t followed up to see how it was going. It was one of my anti-depressants that had been on a lower dose for quite a while, and I believe that the additional stress just made it harder to recover without that extra crutch. Towards the end of October I upped the dose again, and started to feel better.

In October we also had family wedding celebrations to attend to, and we both had it close to where we live, as well as going to London for a weekend. This mostly took up most of October both time and energy wise.

November, December, cold season

Early November the entire family caught the flu. Me and my partner caught it worst, and were more or less strapped to bed for over a week each, and he took much longer to recover than I did.

In early December I caught another bout of a cold, and I slipped down the stairs, and was sick for about 3 weeks. During this period, I was so tired of being sick, but I wanted to not repeat the summer’s mistake, so I did my best to rest properly and get better.

Just before Christmas I was finally rid of my cold, and able to spend it with the family (my partner’s) here in the UK, instead of going home to Sweden like I had planned. And on Christmas day the entire family got hit with the Winter Stomach Flu. This lasted for about 3 days.

And this is literally where the year ended. The last 3 months of it I was very low energy, and sick most of the time, or drained due to too low medicine.

If any of you wondered where I went during those months, that’s pretty much the explanation, and it’s made some of my projects suffer, and me emotionally suffer as well. Because I’m happy about being here and meeting a bunch of my new and old friends here in the UK as well.

Hopefully 2020 will be a much better year, and we’ll see more of each other now.

When life beats you down

I moved to another country, it was okay that I felt exhausted.

I felt like I should be recovering faster, and be back to my new old-self.

I didn’t realize that I was out of sync with medication.

As well as attending family weddings.

As well as visiting new friends.

As well as…

I was just exhausted. And I didn’t admit it. I didn’t know how to deal with it.

I was supposed to be better now, stronger. I had moved countries, packed every box in my own.

I was strong and on top of the world. Why was I zapped?

The medicine imbalance took months to figure out, and a day to fix, or so I thought.

I felt an initial surge of energy. Slept 5hrs. “I’m back”, I yelled. Immediately heading out again.

Drained. I had to start over again. The self-destructive behaviors started creeping in.

Screwing more with medicine, not sleeping, eating too much sugar, not leaving the house, gaming all day, losing time.

What was I protecting myself from?

Nothing. But I was still out of balance, still not ready.

I decided to rest. To take all the time I needed.

Then I caught another cold. Every muscle in my body ached.

After two days it felt like it broke. My throat was still sore, but I was ready to take on the world, again.

Then I slipped down the stairs. Only half a flight.

More worried about the pistachio shells flying across the carpet, than my newly burnt knees.

I heard the panic in everyone’s voices, as they rushed to check on whoever fell.

I would’ve gotten up. Usually.

I felt defeated.

I was finally going to get shit done, and this happens? Why?

I just sat, collected my legs.

Are you alright?

“Nothing’s broken”. Other than my soul.

Crushed by obvious defeat.

This fat fuck doesn’t leave the house and now she can’t even get down the stairs on her own.

Intrusive thoughts.

I had only slipped.

I had slipped because my feet were slightly less rugged than the day before.

Now my knees were rugged instead.

I cried.

Eventually got up.

Went back upstairs and asked for a cup of tea.

To nurture my soul.

To reflect on the pain.

No blood.

No swelling.

No bruising. Yet.

Pantless, the revealed burns, just raw nerve endings, breathing in the oxygen.

“I was ready to take on the world again today.”

Maybe tomorrow.

Poem: Crutches

They are my support
To help me walk,
Every day.

If I lose one
I make damned sure
To keep the other one.

While slightly imbalanced
I can still walk
With only one crutch.

Tomorrow
I'll be back on two
Balancing myself again.

If I drop both,
Insisting I can walk
Alone without them
I hurt myself more
Causing pain, tears.

Tearing up wounds
With each step

Tore down my defense
My support
My crutches

Neglecting myself
Hurting myself
Killing myself

Mania,
triggered,
paralyzed.

Breathless.
Through the dark.

Recovery.
Day by day.

Silence. Alone.
With this pain.

Never will I drop all my medicine on the same day, ever again.

a whiff of fallen leaves

I wanted to describe the smell
Of the fallen leaves, rustling
Smelling like only fall leaves do

Different than the decomposed
Spring smell
Still indicative of season change

What words do I use
For these dry heaps
Of fallen leaves
So you can smell them too?

Do they smell the same
In every place where leaves fall
In the fall?

The smell is stronger
When moisture meets each leaf
Something about the surface
Connecting with the air,
Spreading small molecules
Flowing through the air
And finding their way there

To your nostrils
Their final resting place
In the fall, when they calm
You down and tell of the ending season

On How do you make time to write?

When I read this question today the first thing, and the truth, that came to my mind was “I don’t”. Then I wondered why? Why don’t I make time to write?

The problem isn’t that I’m not making time to write, the problem is that in not making time to sit and be bored.

Taking the time to do nothing, walk the forest, or sit in silence. I realized, by being asked that question that I don’t need to make time to write, I need to make time to fill my head with the things I want to write. Then the time writing them doesn’t have to be as long.

A silent ride on your commute, no music.

An evening without movies, or games, or books.

I fill up my alone and still time with sounds, or I sleep. I don’t give myself those minutes I need to just put two and two together to want to write something.

When I was younger it was incredibly important to me to write every day on my blog. That was the only way you grew I felt like. On the other hand I had a close friend 10 years ago, who took the time to think and waiting for the puzzle pieces to fall into place before he was ready to write down his posts.

I don’t think this is for everyone. I don’t think it was always for me. I used to write things out as soon as possible, even live blog events. Maybe I did that as a process to be able to move on to the next event, conference, happening to cover. I needed to clear my head.

These days I’m more like my friend, I wait for a lot of puzzle pieces to form in my head before I write them down. This works most of the time, a lot better than trying to write when you just have a tiny kernel, I find waiting for the cup to be full makes it easier and less painful to measure (sorry about the mixed metaphors).

This line is thinking is now more relevant because NaNoWriMo literally just started. Where people are pushing out 50k words in a month. And I wanted to participate, in a way that fits me and where I am now. With this post in mind, I think I’m going to take 60 min every day, while I’m alone and just sit with my thoughts, and see where it brings me.

That said, I also believe that learning new things is an important part of writing. Reading new books, from new cultures. Reading experiences from people who are not like you. Find some piece of history to engorge yourself in.

Never stop learning, and you’ll always have something to write about, just remember to give yourself pause, and make space, rather than just time, to find something to write. Give your head rest, and take a deep breath.


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Bi Visibility Day – Taking Space in the Quiltbag

LGBTQIA, or Quiltbag, there’s a B in there which stands for bi(sexual), and even though it’s been there since the first iteration of the acronym I used (HBT), I’ve never felt like I fit in, in LGBT spaces, or pride events.

That said, the first one I went to 10 years ago, HBT Festivalen in Gothenburg, Sweden, there was a panel, or talk about bisexuality being so much more than just liking two genders. And I got it unveiled for me as a spectrum, and how there’s two sides of it, both romantic and sexual which both have a long spanning spectra all on their own.

This has stayed with me through the years, and maybe not really sunk in until just recently. I’ve started to see how it fits into my own life, but also learnt about how a lot of us bi women are afraid of other women because we just don’t know how to deal with each other. This inherent belief that men are easier.

Earlier this summer I met a woman, I dunno if she was lesbian or bisexual but it doesn’t really matter too much. She taught me that I wasn’t alone with this fear, and that a lot of bisexual women simply don’t go after other women because we simply don’t know how, or we’re afraid to for a reason or another.

Being taught this, and her helping me cross that threshold, it has since been easier for me to actually keep trying to reach out to women I like. I still feel like men are “easier” to deal with, but I find myself finally able to dare speak with women and flirt, and take that next step.

Yesterday for Bi Visibility Day, a friend brought me to BiPhoria in Manchester as a way to get to know new people (since I just moved to the UK), and apparently it is something that always comes up “Am I bisexual enough?“, often enough for it to be on their website. BiPhoria also happens to be “the UK’s longest-running social & support organization for bisexual people”.

Am I bisexual enough?

This question that keeps plaguing us, how can I be bisexual when I’m married, when I’ve only dated men, when I don’t really even dare to talk with women?

At the meeting another aspect of it was brought up, and that’s the statistics of it all. There’s likely to be more men who are into women, than women who are into women (who are bi), and that’s why it’s very common that bi women are mainly dating men.

Yes, of course there are lesbian women who also like women, but I think a lot of bi-women may feel like maybe they don’t want to trick a lesbian cis woman. While this could also play both ways, it seems like there’s this belief that women only like other women (while also liking men) to attract men. Which is both a harmful myth, and one that’s probably helped women come out as bi a lot easier, because they’ve had room to play around.

Why is that harmful as a myth if it allowed us space to explore ourselves and each other? Well, bi-men have not really gained that opportunity to the same extent, so it’s possibly been a lot harder for them to come out as bisexuals because of it. There’s possibly a lot more stigma around it (still). Is it because you’d be labeled as gay, in a derogatory way, or is it something else?

I don’t think we inherently, as people who are bi, believe that being gay is bad, but it’s still something that’s thrown around in society as a slap across the face for a lot of us, no matter our space in the quiltbag. We’ve come a long way, but we still have a really long way to go when it comes to acceptance of ourselves, each other, and acceptance from others.

As some people much wiser than me have said, we don’t want to be merely tolerated, we want to be accepted and allowed to live, breathe and thrive in this society.

This blog post doesn’t cover nearly everything I wanted to talk about after yesterday’s meeting, and unfortunately my mind is slightly too scattered right now.
That said, please be kind to your fellow friends in the QUILTBAG, we’re all in the same boat, and let’s fight for each other’s right to exist.


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Activity Pub – It’s all connected

The first Activity Pub Conference happened in Prague the 7-8th of September 2019. This is a fairly big deal as Activity Pub is quite a new standard within the federated software space, but also because it’s gotten too big to present all the different software in one slide (as per cwebbers keynote) with 50+ implementations. I attended and spoke at the conference. This post goal was the reflect on how it’s all connected, but ended up mostly discussing some topics which came up, and drew a few lines between topics, but not all.

The Activity Pub Conference

The event had one day of scheduled and pre-planned talks and speakers and a second day of unconference, which was partially or to a large degree about getting groups of people together to have conversations about certain subjects or ideas which came up during the first day. Unconferences have always appealed to me, but this felt like an interesting combination of doing both a normal conference, and an unconference in one, especially since a lot of ideas will come up during people’s talks.

The first day’s talk was a wide range of topics, and I noticed as I was listening to each of them how they all intersected with one another, and that it seems like overall we all want to work towards the same direction.

Below are the talks as summarized on the website, and if you follow this link you can actually watch all the recordings of the talks. After that I’ll start actually talking about the conference and my thoughts about it.

Keynote: “ActivityPub: past, present, future”

1. “ActivityPub: past, present, future”

Keynote by Christopher Lemmer Webber.
This talk gives an overview of ActivityPub:
How did we get to this point? Where are we now? Where do we need to go? We’ll paint a chart from past to a hopeful future with better privacy, richer interactions, and more security and control for our users.

Other talks on day 1

2. “Advice to new fediverse administrators and developers” by Luc Didry

Hosting an ActivityPub service is not like hosting another service and it’s the same for developing ActivityPub software.
Here is some advice based on Farmasoft’s experience. We host a Mastodon instance and develop two ActivityPub software: PeerTube and Mobilizon – the last one is not yet out.
Errors and Observations.

3. “Is ActivityPub paving the way to web 3.0?” by maloki (me)

A talk about how we’re walking away from Web 2.0, and paving the way to Web 3.0 with ActivityPub development.
We’ll discuss what this could mean for the future of the web. We’ll look at some of the history of the web, and also consider the social implications moving forward.

4. “The Semantic Social Network” by Pukkamustard

ActivityPub uses JSON-LD as sterilization. This means @context field all over the place. But really there is more behind this: ActivityPub speaks Linked Data.
In this talk we would like to show what this means and how this can be used to do cool things. We might even convince you that the Fediverse is a huge distributed graph that could be queried in very interesting ways – that the Fediverse is a Semantic Social Network.

5. “Keeping Unwanted Messages off the Fediverse” by Serge Wroclawski

Spam, scams and harassment pose a threat to all social networks, including the Fediverse. In this talk, we discuss a multilayered approach to mitigating these threats. We explore spam mitigation techniques of the past as well as new techniques such as OcapPub and Postage.

6. “Decentralised Hashtag Search and Subscription in Federated Social Networks” by Schmittlauch

Hashtags have become an important tool for organising topic-related posts in all major social networks, even having managed to spark social movements like #MeToo. In federated social networks, unfortunately so far the view on all posts of a hashtag is fragmented between instances.
For a student research paper I came up with an architecture for search and subscription of hashtag-posts in federated social networks. This additional backend for instances augments the Fediverse with a little bit of P2P technology.
As this architecture is still at a conceptual stage, after presenting my work I’d like to gather ideas and feedback from various Fediverse stakeholders:
What do global hashtags mean for marginalised people and moderation, are they more a took of empowerment or of harassment? How can this concept be represented in the ActivityPub protocol? And what stories do server devs have to tell about common attack scenarios?

7. “OSS Compliance with privacy by default and design” by Cristina DeLisle

Privacy is becoming more and more central in shaping the future of tech and the data protection legislation has contributed significantly to making this happen. Privacy by default and design are core principles that are fundamental to how software should be envisioned. The GDPR that came into the spotlight has a strong case to become a standard even outside European Borders, influencing the way we protect personal data. However its impact might be its implementation is still it its infancy. OSS has found itself facing the situation and one aspect which is particularly interesting on the tech side is how to incorporate the principles of privacy by default and design into the software that we build.
This talk is going to be an overview of how the GDPR has impacted FOSS communities, what do we mean by privacy by default and by design, how could we envision them applied in our OSS. It will bring examples from which we might find something interesting to learn from, regardless if we are looking at them as mistakes, best practices or just ways of doing things.

8. “The case for the unattributed message” by Caleb James DeLisle

Despite it’s significant contribution to internet culture, the archetype of the anonymous image board has been largely ignored by protocol designers. Perhaps the reason for this is because it’s all too easy to conflate unattributed speech with unmoderated speech, which has shown itself ot be a dead end.
But as we’ve seen from Twitter and Facebook, putting a name on everything hasn’t actually worked that well at improving the quality of discourse, but what it does do is put already marginalized people at greater risk.
What I credit as one of the biggest breakthroughs of the fediverse has been the loose federation which allows a person to choose their moderator, completely side stepping the question of undemocratic censorship vs toxic free speech.
Now I want to start a conversation about how we might marry this powerful moderation system to a forum which divorces the expression of thought from all forms of identity.

9. “Federated Blogging with WriteFreely” by Matt Baer

We’re building out one idea of what federated blogging could look like with separate ActivityPub-powerd platforms, WriteFreely and Read.as—one for writing and one for reading.
Beyond the software, we also offer hosting services and helping new instances spring up to make community-building more accessible, and get ActivityPub-powered software into more hands.
In this talk I’ll go over our approach so far and where we’re headed next.

10. “I don’t know what I’m talking about” by Michael Demetrious (qwazix)

A newbie’s introduction to ActivityPub:
I have just started my development journey in ActivityPubLand, and I hope to have a first small application ready before ActivityPubConf.
I was thinking that since I have close to zero experience with ActivityPub development, I could document my first month of experience, describe the onboarding process and point out useful resources and common pitfalls.
In the end I can showcase what I’ve done during this period.

Day 2 – Keynote and Unconference

11. “Architectures of Robust Openness”

Keynote by Mark S. Miller
As social systems grow, we need patterns to allow us to grow social connections while maintaining safety and trust.
Ocaps (object capabilities) fill this void by allowing consensual connections between parties, and even allows participants to intentionally share those connections with others.
But how can we allow for the establishing of new connections without opening us up to runaway abuse?
This talk discusses Horton, a “whodunnit” layer built on top of object capabilities, allowing us to establish connections while preserving accountability and the ability to reason about trust with a reduction of fear.

Unconference Sessions

https://pixelfed.social/storage/m/ed927593d303a303939e1879ef5534e46ecb9617/cd09003354deaca3904f928627f4b2a1624b5e06/0XOn3zPLx4mnS4iFgqYKbnz5qjaUTe8O6niN7RtO.jpeg
Postit notes on a window, with the different talks for the Unconference Sessions

The unconference part had a few different segments, but all in all we ended up with 4 sessions each (an hour sessions at the time).

The three I attended were “What is Web 3.0 and how do we get there?”, “OcapPub”, “Activity Pub Community Coordination” (This wasn’t the title, but the results). I will try to tie them into the rest of this post, but here are a write up of each talk.

How do we get to Web 3.0, and what is it to us?

For this session we had a small roundtable of various people talking about our own thoughts and concerns about how do we get to this next step of the web. How do we get away from advertisements, sold data etc. ?

There was a conversation about how the state could help out by providing infrastructure (similar to roads), and help people take the first steps onto the web. Which also raised some concerns about what if the government isn’t to be trusted anymore, and everyone is on-boarded to the web through them, then we’re in trouble.

There was a point to be made here though, the government is supposed to be for the people, while private companies are often for profit. Part of the point was to identify that, that there needs to be another option than private companies which want to offer you a “free” service, but instead sell your data, and you possibly not being aware of it.

As per my talk, I elaborated a little bit on the subject, and said that I believe that there are several different parts of the web which will take us into web 3.0 together. It’s all connected (as per this blog posts title), and I will elaborate on some of the connections later in this post. But things I recognized was the semantic web, and blockchain technologies. They are all looking forward wanting to build a better web.

It has also been suggested that we may be on Web 5 or higher already, but are we really, has there been as big of a paradigm shift from Web 2.0 as from Web 1.0 yet?

OcapPub not a new standard, but a different way to work with Activity Pub

OcapPub was a discussion about how we can inject Object Capabilities into Activity Pub (without creating a new standard) and create a possible safer space. We received some commentary regarding stamps, as in making it more difficult for nefarious messages to get traction or get through to the target (adding cost to the transaction of spam or other harmful messages, with the burden on the sender, not receiver). This would create some barriers of entry, but also possibly allow for some types of protection from harassment as well as spam. This clearly connected to Serge’s talk about future harassment and spam mitigation on fedi.

There was some concerns about if OcapPub was supposed to be a replacement for Activity Pub, but no, that’s not the intent, it’s supposed to be an addition to the standard (from my understanding).

We also discussed the issues with the Shared Inbox, which I currently do not fully grasp. But rather we’ll be looking towards Multi-Inbox (MultiBox?) which will help create layers of what kind of content you choose to receive. Look at it as advanced filters, both on a personal level and a server level.

Organizing the Activity Pub Community, and preparing for a FOSDEM devroom

This session had quite a few things on it, one was “we need a shared space to coordinate”, do we want a devroom at FOSDEM, and there’s an opening to apply for grants via an organisation.

Mainly we decided that we want to apply for a devroom at FOSDEM, and we checked in with who’d be interesting in attending and helping out. Work is in progress for this. Call for Papers will be published soon.

We also decided to revive socialhub.activitypub.rocks for communication between different folx within the fediverse and their different projects.

It’s all connected

Connected numbered nodes, numbers representing the different talks at the conference.

What became very clear to me, as I sat there listening the first day, was that all of these talks are connected, even if some may seem less connected than the rest. The image I drew was to help me confirm to myself that indeed it’s all connected. And I realized that it very much resembles the logo for the Fediverse (as per the header/feature image of this post).

Since the image is not a perfect representation, I want to try to put into words and explain to you some of these connections, and maybe inspire some hope that we are indeed looking to drive development in the same direction, even though we may talk past each other at times. We want a lot of the same things for the future of the web, the Fediverse, and development of ActivityPub, but we may have slightly different ways of getting there. It may even be tempting to disregard other’s paths towards a new web because of the way they are doing it is so vastly different from your own path, but the way I see it we can still learn a lot from each other.

ActivityPub as the foundation

I attempted to indicate the strength of the connections by the lines between them, some are single straight lines, some are dotted and some are double lines. As you can see the first keynote by cwebber (1) more or less connected to everything else. Mainly I’d argue that this is because their talk was about what led us here and what’s on the horizon for ActivityPub (you can watch it in full here, unfortunately there was some audio issues with this one). It would make sense if the rest of the talks at a conference about ActivityPub would connect to that in some way.

Webber’s talk and Mark S. Miller’s talk strongly connect, so does Serge Wroclawski’s. I know that some of the reasons for this is quite personal, and Webber even asked Miller to sign a printed copy of his own dissertation in front of everyone. That said, these personal connections will also drive development, because when we connect, we want to work together and forge ahead together.

These three talks were mainly connected by the fact that Serge showed how we can utilize the idea of Robust Openness which Miller spoke about, and all the while doing it on top of ActivityPub as Webber spoke of. There’s a synergy here, which will allow us to create robuster, more open, and safer and more personalized experiences on the federated web of ActivityPub implementations. They also were showing us a possible way to move forward by providing a clear suggestion on how it can be used. At some point (during the unconference I believe) someone asked “Would anyone be interested in using OcapPub”, and thanks to these three talks I saw that it can be used for my own project (Florence) in order to provide some of the things especially when it comes to anti-harassment features and filtering that we’ve been looking to implement. At the same time, someone said “do we really know enough yet to say yes, we’re interested”? Which is a valid question.

For further reading: The conversation about OCAP with ActivityPub has been ongoing for quite a while, and I think that kaninii’s introduction “What is OCAP and why should I care?” to it is quite useful to read when put into this other context.

The Known Universe

While there are over 50 implementations of Activity Pub, we’re definitely not aware of all of them, and Webber’s even stopped adding any to the slide, so it’s just “over 50 implementations” on there now. As this was a rather small conference we did not have even close to 50 represented, but we had a few different ones attending, and some giving talks. In the Fediverse we already have equivalents of YouTube (PeerTube), Twitter (Mastodon/pleroma), Facebook (Hubzilla/Diaspora), SoundCloud (FunkWhale), Instagram (Pixelfed), Medium (WriteFreely/Plume) to mention a few.

Some of the talks were about what people are already doing within this space, for example Federated Blogging with WriteFreely, the Advice for new fediverse administrators, and “I don’t know what I’m talking about—The newbie guide to ActivityPub“.

WriteFreely / Write.as

I think WriteFreely is one of the exceptions in a lot of the ActivityPub software I’ve seen, and that because it’s already been around for so long, without the ActivityPub implementation, so them joining us in the fediverse was definitely a bit more of a unique story. It wasn’t built to federate in the beginning, but Matt Baer (founder of Write.as) eventually realized what an interesting aspect that would be to his software. They provide both hosted ways of using, and allowing others to host it on their own as it’s also open source. It was interesting to see the route they took to eventually join the the community.

WriteFreely’s thoughts about adding links from other blogs as comments reminded me of the old blog-o-sphere which there’s been a few different ones through the years and times, I partook in a Swedish and political one. There’s this importance on the web to feel connected with other people I think, when we provide our thoughts and posts, and put ourselves out there. I think WriteFreely among with other blogging tools coming with ActivityPub integration will be an important part of allowing people to do this again.

At the same time, write.as provides a great example of alternative funding of a AP project. Who best to host their own software than the developers? This way you can direct contact with the customers, and can fix bugs and stuff for people who are paying you for hosting etc. This can be a very beneficial relationship to have, and also help pay for development, even when it’s open source.

Joining the fediverse and learning all about it

The talk about advice for new fediverse admins, as well as the newbie guide to ActivityPub talks helped provide us with additional legs to stand on when getting acquainted with the Fediverse, and ActivityPub as a standard, but also a bit of support for new people coming in and offering it as a gateway.

I feel like these conversations are incredibly important, because we should always strive, to some extent to be newbie friendly, or to have newbie friendly spaces. “We were all noobs once“. An example, not actually represented at the conference, but a very comprehensive, not so short, Mastodon Guide written by Noelle volunteering her time to help people understand this wide-spread software just a little bit better.

GDPR and compliance for OSS

This talk isn’t actually visible in my little drawing, because it’s outside the main graph and just circling everything else, as it is all-encompassing. This take helped me understand the scope of GDPR, and how much there is to understand about what role a server may play in that landscape, and as a result from what what responsibilities we may have.

I think this talk, while I can’t explain the details of why it connects with everything should be viewed by everyone, and you can watch it here.

The Future—Moving forward with new possibilities

To loop back to Webber’s talk, they also covered some possible futures for how to improve both ActivityPub as it is (OcapPub as an example, which I elaborated on further up), but also from a software perspective. Each implementation can work to be better with their UI, an example would be to make sure that the UI is easily understood by the layfolx who are maybe not on as much a technical side as some of us are, and if that fails, try to make sure it fails safely. As in lowering the risk of people outing themselves or hurting themselves because they thought the features worked a certain way and it turns out it did not at all (there’s some historical examples of this with Direct Messages on Mastodon, among other things).

While the last keynote (11) does not seem to be as strongly connected because when I drew the graph we hadn’t listened to Mark Miller’s keynote yet, so it was not added immediately. And I did not get as much clear data immediately after his talk, as compared to Webber’s which then was followed by all other talks that day.
That said, Miller speaking about Object Capabilities, as part of a more robust way of allowing an open network (as per the fediverse), helped me grasp and comprehend some of the concerns we’ve been having for a long while. Some of you may, similarly to myself, have heard Ocaps be thrown around and how it’s going to fix every issue we currently have on fedi, but feel a bit overwhelmed by the technicalities of it all.

Closing remarks and reflections

I think it was quite a relief for myself, who also spoke at this event, that I felt connected with everyone else, and felt that my talk was still part of this community in some way, and that I’m not alone in some of these ideas.

Something that came up during this conference was the following “revolutions are run by the people who show up”, and this actually worries me. Not because of the people who attended, but rather who would not be able to attend. We need to make sure that we have advocates in attendance who can help represent marginalized groups. Be it BIPOC, disabled, quiltbag or others. This will mean that we should invite, and provide both travel and accommodations for a few positions of people who would be able to do that. There’s different ways of doing stuff like this, but I feel like it’s something we need to think about and consider early on and that’s why I’m bringing it up now.

That said, I’m aware that the next event will not be organized by the same people, but rather we will probably have different teams of people inviting to different ActivityPub Conferences over the coming years, I still think it’s incredibly valuable for us to keep in mind the lessons learned from previous ones, and asking each other for help to improve over time. I know there’s a Fediverse conference in the making for 2020, which I hope to attend, and I’ll make sure you hear about as soon as it’s been officially announced.

Further, I think there’s room for improvement on the ActivityPub standard, and how we use it. This is an ongoing conversation, that will definitely not only be covered during a conference, but all the time. I think we all should consider joining that conversation, and I think these two blogposts about securing ActivityPub and “What would ActivityPub look like with capability based security anyway?” are a good start to keep that conversation going. I know we’ll be talking about it with the team on Florence.

Thank you for reading through this beast of a post, and I hope it gave you some light for where we’re currently going when it comes to possibilities for better filtering and anti-harassment tools on the Fediverse still using ActivityPub.


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