ICYMI: The Snubs Report is Going Strong!

I was in Kyoto for just a few days, so I made the most of it with these must-see tourism sites! Here are my top 6 places to see in Kyoto! Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/snubs Site: http://www.snubsie.com YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/ShannonMorse I've been hosting online video shows since 2008, and recently learned how to edit!

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I've been working on The Snubs Report every week as an after-hours hobby platform. This show is giving me the ability to fine-tune my own vlogging and learn more editing skills. Since I've started The Snubs Report, I've gotten better at editing video and photos with Adobe Premiere, Lightroom, and Photoshop. I'm also learning a lot about analytics and what kind of videos you want to see.

So, what do you want to see me talk about on The Snubs Report? Anything in particular? Let me know via my social networks, or comment below!

Cheers!

My Letter

I'm sharing this for a girl who recently went through a similar experience.
I know you probably feel like crap right now, and as if everyone hates you. But please believe me when I say I know exactly how you feel and what you're going through. My story is a little different, but it had a similar impact. 

I remember it like it was yesterday, even though it was practically 10 years ago. I was hanging out with my then-boyfriend, and some good friends from college at one of our hometown lounges, chatting and having a grand time. I got a call from one of my besties, telling me something horrible had happened. A guy I had dated months previously had posted personal photos of me onto a gaming site for anyone to look at. My heart dropped. I seriously thought she was playing a cruel prank on me.

I remember breaking up with that long distance relationship. It was going nowhere, and I was at the point in my life where I wanted to find my soul mate. I deleted his private photos, our text messages. I deleted his entire existence from my life, because that's how I move on. He, apparently, didn't.

This is a letter to share my experience and how I found control, trust, and perseverance. At the time, I felt like a victim. Like I was robbed and there was nothing I could do.
My story is a story that hundreds of women are starting to speak out about. I started seeing a change in society's eyes about women's bodies in 2014, when several celebrities had their photos stolen and released without their consent. It made me feel like I wasn't the only one. It made me feel like it wasn't something I should be shamed for. And you shouldn't either.
There is a growing interest in women having power over their own bodies, from magazines showing breasts, to organizations trying to 'free the nipple'. Women are fighting tech companies for the right to share their photos of breastfeeding.
Before this growing trend, women have been told to never share private photos of themselves, to hide themselves for fear of them being released. If those photos ever get out, they are shamed for sharing them in the first place. They are "victim-blamed". Women are taught from an early age that their bodies are sexual things, and trusting this to another person can be seen as unintelligent, immoral, and wrong.
Over the past 10 years, I've taken several steps to keep my personal photos out of any public eye because I too believed it to be a terrible, bad thing. While I understand that once something is on the Internet, it's there forever, I still took strong precautions from my photos being posted without my consent. By sharing this information with friends, family, and relatives, I've amassed an army of trusted individuals who have helped me hide my body, who have helped me from being shamed. But I was still hiding.
I lost a huge part of my own strength and control when my personal photography was released without my consent so many years ago and since then, it's only gotten more prevalent. The trend of strangers judging my body, the comments made to me by con-goers, the immense deal of stress, spending hours upon hours sending Dmca takedown notices to random sites made solely to comment about women's bodies. It makes you feel numb after a while. It makes you lose faith in humanity and lose trust in people. I lost my optimism.
Recently, I took a vacation to a beautiful serene part of our planet earth where I had no connection to the Internet. I went offline for a week, and it was bliss. I heard no criticisms, no harsh feedback, and no opinions. I was myself again, and I missed feeling like that.
So I made a decision. I needed to quit hiding and share my side of an old story that so many women have told. That was about 9 months ago. I stopped worrying so much about some random opinion about my body and I focused on myself. And I felt like I gained back the control that I needed over my life. The random opinions didn't matter anymore, and I found a way to block them out of my life.
There are so many young girls who commit suicide because a boy has released their nudes, with no recourse. There are several women in the public eye who have had to deal with the same thing, but have amazing lawyers and PR representation. But the problem persists, where these women are constantly shamed for doing the act of taking photos of themselves in the first place.
And herein lies the problem. By shaming the victims of a sexual harassment or abuse, we are working our way into a society norm where women are treated as sexual objects. We need to take back control of our own bodies, and break the never-ending cycle of treating women as property that can be objectified. Women should feel strong and self-confident for sharing themselves with their spouse, significant other, boyfriend, girlfriend, or anyone for that matter. We shouldn't feel as if taking a photo of our nude body is a bad thing, or immoral, or something to be ashamed of.
I'm not ashamed, and I don't regret posing for my own photography. While I didn't have a clue about rule of thirds or lighting at the time, I did have self confidence. I've found my self confidence since then, and I've grown a career out of something I've been passionate about since I was a child. I fell in love with media and education. I've found a passion for life, love, freedom, and my own power.
While I did place trust in an individual that acted on a whim, and I placed control of my body in the hands of another person who made his own decisions- I dont look for recourse in his actions. I know, from speaking with many, that I could. But To this day I am so proud of myself for making the choices I have in life. From respecting that long-ago boyfriend, to respecting myself in my work. I wish I could have had control over my body 10 years ago, but that control was taken away from me with a swift upload.
I can't change my past, and I've discussed this with so many of my close associates. What I can do is speak out about my experience in the hopes that it gives another young women strength. No woman should ever be shamed for putting trust into a person she holds dear. No women should be told she is a slut, whore, cunt, or a bitch for sharing herself with her person. It is her choice, and whether she chooses to share herself publicly should continue to be her choice. Taking that decision away from someone is degrading and inhumane. While a person who shares your private information may do it out of spite, jealousy, or for bragging rights, I hope that by reading this some young woman in the world may look at her photos and say "I'm amazing. I'm proud of my body. I am not ashamed."
From the mouth of one of my European friends: "Who cares? Its just a body. Everyone has them." 

How Kaiser Permanente Took $1000 From Me

I got this email from Kaiser Member services:
Hi Shannon,
After reviewing your enrollment information it appears that the enrollment effective date of 07/01/14 is correct. Since the implementation of Affordable Care Act (ACA) you are only able to enroll with a health care provider during open enrollment periods. Since you recently were married in June you met the qualification to enroll with us due to meeting the criteria of a "Special Enrollment Period." Since your marriage qualified you to enroll your effective date of coverage would unfortunately have to be 07/01/14. Normally the ACA open enrollment period is  October 1, 2013 to March 31, 2014 for coverage to become effective as early as 01/01/14.
Since you expressed dissatisfaction of being billed  for coverage you indicated you didn't need nor known you'd have I am escalating a case to our Member Case Resolution Center (MCRC) for a Case Manager to review. The complete process may take up to 30 days: however, the Case Manager may contact you much sooner if further information is needed or if the resolution comes prior to the 30 days. Please let us know if you have any further questions or concerns and I apologize for the confusion you've had with your enrollment.
Thank you for allowing us the opportunity to assist,
Jamison James
Senior Health Plan Representative
Member Services Social Media Unit
Follow us: @KPMemberService
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New Year Resolutions

 

2014 is one of those years that I'll remember forever. It was full of really positive moments and really low lows. I made some difficult choices, and some that came naturally.


The year started with a huge career upheaval. Some of my dearest mentors moved on, and were no longer around as often for me to talk with. Many folks made huge changes in their careers, some by choice, and some not. It seemed as if everyone around me was leaving, and I was stuck on my own. As I look back, I'm glad everyone made the moves they did. Several of my friends chose paths that positively effected their lives, and I am proud of them for taking the leaps they did. 


By taking a job with Tekzilla, I too made a leap of faith. Tekzilla brought me new opportunities, and helped me expand my knowledge. It also inspired me to work harder, and I felt much more self confident with my career. I learned that I shouldn't sell myself short, and I shouldn't always say 'yes'. 


This was the first year that shows I worked on were canceled, or I had to leave. It was hard to deal with that change, financially and emotionally, but I embraced it. The change brought the power of independence. I'm now completely free to choose what I do, with no strings attached. While I'm still feeling some of the negative impacts of those changes, I'm also growing my own self-worth, through the power of being my own boss. 


I knew that even if I felt like I had hit rock bottom and would have to live out of a car, I still had support from the people I love. A couple of years ago I learned that taking negativity at face value was worthless, specially if the ones saying things are complete strangers. 2014 was my year of embracing the people that mean the most to me, and leaving others behind or trying to see their comments outside of the box. It was the year that, if someone said I was wrong, I'd discuss it with them. Oftentimes the person (another human being!) would apologize for an attack or appreciate that I wasn't ego-driven. It meant more for me to relate, than to just berate back. 2014 meant not caring if someone online still looked at me as if I'm just the 'pretty girl on Hak5'. I advanced my knowledge so much this year, that hearing things like that no longer mattered. I continue to be a woman in the tech industry, and as hard as some might go to see me fail, I'm not going anywhere. This is where I belong and where I want to be. 


Women dealt with some weird stuff this year, myself included. From dealing with a real-life stalker, and filing a complaint with local police, to having an almost famous nerdcore rapper sexuality harass me at a pool party in Vegas, to watching celebrity women deal with obvious breaches of their own private information - (why women still have to deal with being objectified is beyond me)... But after dealing with objectification hundreds of times since I started working in online media, I decided not to 'smile'  anymore, and make sure others aren't afraid to speak up.  I want to be someone that little girls can look up to and be inspired by,and I'm glad everyone from toy makers to the US President are breaking down that gender barrier. Women are standing up for themselves when it comes to sexism, and I'm choosing to be one of those women. We are outspoken, strong, and logical.


Personally, I made some amazing life changes, like getting married to my amazing husband and choosing to go completely freelance for work. I focused more time on making memories than shopping, and saving more than spending. I traveled a lot, took amazing pictures, and spent time on hobbies, working less on the weekends. I spent less time on my phone and more time on myself- learning recipes to cook at home, taking day trips to local hop spots and spending time with friends.

I learned, through getting married, what friends care most about you and which ones care more for themselves. Marriage is amazing! Planning a wedding is stressful and time-consuming (that's a whole 'nother blog post!). I started being more open with my views, especially on things like religion and politics, and learned a bunch about fellow humans' personalities based on their reactions. 

In the end, I'm glad things happened the way they did. There were a few instances, like when Tekzilla was cancelled or my friend moved away, where I panicked and thought 'I'm so fucked!'. Other times when I felt like I was most peaceful and found my stride, with new hobbies and obsessions (like couponing and building electronics). I don't care if people find my passions annoying or weird. I don't care if a stranger thinks my hair cut is weird. I love my passions, and they make me happy! I like the direction my life is going. There were so many paths I could take this year, opportunities and gut feelings. I'm making a new path, leading and not following, and I kinda like it that way.

The Internet Has It's Moments... But Other Times...

There are rare occasions when I actually feel like pulling out a pencil and paper (or my digital notepad), and writing a few paragraphs about something that I feel emotionally invested in or about. 


A friend of mine posted a link to a reddit post yesterday, which featured a bunch of nude photos of celebrity women. I chose not to click on any of the photos, mostly because I like to live life without corrupting every last remaining minute. 


It really got to me. And I ranted about it on twitter, and for the most part people were in agreement. But a few folks sent me the obligatory 'well, they shouldn't have put naked photos on the internet' type of messages. 


I hope I can change their views within a few paragraphs. 
Let's take a step back. Someone on the interwebs hacks a company's servers and finds all sorts of private things on it. Thousands upon thousands of files, most likely. And they snoop through said files in the hopes of finding something delicious. The moment arises, in the shape of a nude female figure, a celebrity in fact! Of course, they can't keep that information to themselves, no. Somehow these photos get 'leaked' online, to be shared, forever, with anyone who wants to see them. 


The person gets his (or her) moment of glory! Everyone objectifies the women featured in the private photos, and thanks the hacker for their easy fap session.

 

But no one really thinks about the woman. Obviously, she made a mistake. She put her trust in a company, to keep her information safe. She assumed everything was okay. Maybe she was social engineered into giving out her info, along with several other celebs. (But that seems like a lot of hard work, and I like to think all those women have enough brains to know when something is shady). Or, maybe she just didn't know how to use the backup service, or forgot she signed up for it. Maybe it was a brute force attack. Who knows?? I certainly don't blame them. Everyone makes mistakes. Maybe they forgot their photos are still around! All of a sudden, probably without any hints, those private moments are now free and available to an epic fuck ton of humans across planet Earth.

 

Leave the celebrity bit behind for a second. Put yourself in her high heels. Men, I know it's a little hard to express any form of empathy for some, but take a moment and think about how that would impact your life. Maybe you wouldn't care, but would your wife? Your sister? Your children? Your boss? Would it embarrass you? Would you feel ashamed? Proud? Where is the humanity? What if that was your sister? Your wife?

 

Digging into a person's personal life such as this, doesn't just go away. Uncovering such personal information can destroy a person. Not just their career, or their relationship. It can eat away at them, year after year, never ending. People may meet them sometime in the future and constantly be reminded of the photo they saw on Reddit, or the tabloid where they read about a surgery or whatever it may be.

 

So, who do I blame? Well, I don't know who found a security flaw in an online cloud service, but exposing a bunch of women, objectifying them to a large degree, is not the way to fix an issue. Sure, it brings light to a bigger flaw, but victimizing lots of women based on getting a flaw fixed is NOT the way to do it. I'm sure that moment got a bunch of laughs from the person behind the attack, but I wonder if they'll still feel proud of themselves when one of those women loses her role in a movie, gets dumped, or (let's hope not) commits suicide (yes, people do kill themselves because they can't escape the pain of being bullied). Maybe she'll go to therapy? We won't know, because their strength and courage in front of a camera won't falter. THEY ARE ACTORS. I blame him/her for not directing their findings to the company who had the security flaw. 


And I blame the company, even more so if they WERE notified. Had they fixed the issues, maybe photos wouldn't be leaked (or the pervert still could have, if they saved them all or still had access). I blame the company for making so many feel safe, when consumers (including celebrities) go along with what they are told.

 

I guess I'll just end this with a TLDR version:
Don't blame the women, they shouldn't be the story here. The story is some cloud service has been exposed as being insecure in yet another security breach, and someone decided to announce it in a rather shitty way. 


Photos and lewd gossip spread like wildfire on the Internet. Once it's there, it's there. Do yourself a favor and DONT take part in the action because it makes you look like a jerk. DMCA notices are a very handy tool, and I hope these women take advantage of that, to hopefully remove some of the slander to their names. Eventually it'll die down, people will move on, but they'll still be reminded of it constantly. 
Next time you see a tabloid in the grocery store, don't laugh at those that are being gossiped about. Put yourself in their shoes for a moment. The results may astound you. 

 

I turned off comments, because I hate trolls. However, please do some further reading here.

*I wrote this at 1am Sunday night. So if some exposure of how the breach was done has been publicized since then, I didn't mention it.

StitchFix #10 Review - How To Get The Most From Your StitchFix

Today, I'm reviewing my 10th StitchFix box. So I've been ordering these boxes of surprises every month for almost a year, and I'm still loving it! What is it? StitchFix is an online styling service for women. You sign up and fill out a profile. The more information you give, the better your Fixes will be. I gave them a bunch of pros and cons on my profile, so they know what to send me and what not to. Boxes are $20 and you can get them as often or not as you want. That $20 goes towards your purchase of any items in the box and shipping is free both ways. You can keep 1, 2, or 5 items from each box (for a total of five items sent). If you keep all five, you get a 25% discount off the clothes. If you have a friend sign up with your referral link, you also get a $25 credit. Yay!
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StitchFix #9 Review

I've got StitchFix #9 and Amber did a great job styling for me! I asked her to send fit-and-flare dresses for my Valentine's Day date, and she succeeded! Here are my five items from StitchFix. Remember, if you ever want to try out StitchFix for yourself, use my code to get your first box fast and I get a $25 referral credit! It's only $20 for a box and that purchase goes towards the price of any item you keep. Shipping is free both ways.

Melody Pearls & Branches Earrings 28 - These are very cute and sparkly, and lightweight! Keep!

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StitchFix #8 Review

I love StitchFix. I've been using it for about 9 months now to get a monthly box of cute fashionable clothes. They send you five things for $20. If you like 'em, you keep 'em. That $20 acts as a credit towards whatever you keep. Keep all five items and you get 25% off.

If you use my code, I get an extra credit and you get your first fix a little faster.

Here's my eighth StitchFix!

 

Johnny Skinny Jeans - Cute skinny jeans, but I don't really need jeans so I didn't keep them.

Wynn Ikat Front Pocket blouse - I really like this sheer blouse. It's a pretty deep red color with neat little black patterns all over it. Keep!

Milan Lace Print Back Pleat Top - I love this print, and the fabric is super soft. Keep!

Queensland Dolman Jersey Top - A big fat NO. I hate this type of top, where the arm holes are so big they are like wings. I sent this one back.

Abrial Colorblocked Button-Up Cardigan - This cardigan was so cute! But it was rather short on me so I sent it back.

 

So my eighth StitchFix was a little mediocre, kind of like my 7th one. I think they could have done a better job choosing things that fit my shape and style, and I worried that it was because the site was becoming so popular. I tested a new theory with my Ninth StitchFix by explaining exactly what I was expecting, and I ended up keeping all five items! More on that Fix later..

StitchFix #7 Review

I haven't been to the mall in about 3 months and I owe a lot of that to StitchFix. See, I don't have a lot of time to go shopping. But when I do, I spend WAY too much. So to keep myself from spending too much but still get my 'fix' for new clothes, I signed up for StitchFix.

You sign up and select your preferences for size and style. Your stylist (mine is Ishara!) sends you a box of items they've picked for you. The 'styling fee' is $20.

Try everything on at your home, then send anything you don't like back. That $20 goes towards whatever you keep, and if you keep all five items you get a 25% discount. Sweet!

Let's check out my seventh StitchFix!

 

Galway 3/4 Sleeve Button-Up Blouse - This cost $58 and is a simple sheer button up. It didn't fit me well because it was a little short, so I sent it back.

Beatrice Chain Knot Detail Necklace $32 - A cool, simple silver necklace. Kept!

Andrea Floral Brocade Knit Dress $68 - I love the lace detail on this dress. I kept it!

Marley Sleeveless Sheath Dress $128 - This dress was a bit out of my price range... but it fit like a sleeve... so I kept it.

Livingston Ribbed Sweater Dress $98 - Also not what I like to spend on dresses. I sent this one back. The fabric was too heavy and it was too thick for weather in San Francisco.

 

Not too shabby, but also not one of the best StitchFix's that I've received. I still kept three items out of the bunch.

What do you think? Have you checked out StitchFix yet? Have you had a lovely Fix you want to tell me about? Comment!

And as usual, please use my referral link! It gets you in and gets me a credit for my next Fix!

Laptop Recommendations

I get asked this question a lot. Like, a WHOLE LOT. Every day.

"What laptop do you use on your show?" or "What laptop do you recommend?"

So I'm writing this blog to answer the age old question about Shannon's laptop.

When it comes to Linux distros, my laptop of choice for 3 years has been a small notebook called an Acer TimelineX with an old 3rd gen i3 processor. I have been using this one for my Hak5 segments for several years. It's very small (I believe 11 inches), compact, and takes a bit of a beating. I've loaded several operating systems on it and it still works to this day. I'm currently thinking about updating to a slightly larger laptop with better battery life and a larger screen / keyboard, though. While this laptop works like a charm for simple processing, it IS old and a bit too small.

I'm thinking about upgrading to the Dell XPS 13 Ultrabook. It's got an updated processor, high resolution, it's 13 inches but still weighs around 3 pounds (pretty good for toting back and forth from work) and it's damn pretty. I'd probably choose the i3 / non-touch / Windows 7 version because honestly, you don't need touch for playing in the terminal. It's also more expensive than a notebook. With that upgrade will be a price point of at least $1049.99... so there's that.

Here's another one to consider if you're wanting high-end and Apple. A Macbook Air. While I prefer the usefulness of a Windows machine that can ultimately dual boot to a Linux system or vice versa (both needed for my career, and I also grew up with Windows so I know it much better), the Mac line actually derived from the same place as Linux. Why do you think you see so many Macbooks at DEFCON? It IS an option for hackers, but personally not my first choice.

My last choice (and recent favorite) has been the new Acer Aspire S7. Disclaimer: Acer has sent me this model for long-term review. It's an expensive machine, and quite beautiful. This one runs Windows 8 and has a top-of-the-line battery, screen resolution, and processor. It's also very lightweight at under 3 pounds. I currently use this ultrabook for my podcasts on screen and I've gotten very used to the Win8 interface and touchscreen.

I have used all of these machines and I love them all. Eventually new lines will come along and take their place but if you are in the market for a laptop these have been my go-to choices. Obviously they are quite pricey (which is why I haven't upgraded!) and there are cheaper options on the market. Consider your own criteria before buying. What brands you trust, what is important to you (in the day and age of cloud computing, 1TB drives aren't needed for my own ultrabooks), and where will you be going with your laptop.

Oh, and I wasn't paid for this blog, just FYI. These are all my opinions.

StitchFix #6 Review

I'm obsessed with StitchFix and will be getting my fifth box in the mail in a few days. Here is my take on a box from back in May. StitchFix is a site where you tell all about your style and sizing preferences. Then, a stylist will send you five items picked just for you. You can try everything on at home and keep just what you want. The box comes with free shipping both ways, and a 25% discount if you keep all five items. A box costs $20, which goes towards the purchase of anything you keep! When you sign up, share your referall link for a $25 credit! Here is my referral link so you can get an invite: StitchFix.
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StitchFix #4 Review

Have you checked out StitchFix yet? You sign up and select your preferences for size and style. Your stylist (mine is Ishara!) sends you a box of items they've picked for you. The 'styling fee' is $20. Try everything on at your home, then send anything you don't like back. That $20 goes towards whatever you keep, and if you keep all five items you get a 25% discount. Sweet! Let's check out my fourth StitchFix!
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StitchFix #3 Review

I haven't been to the mall in about 3 months and I owe a lot of that to StitchFix. See, I don't have a lot of time to go shopping. But when I do, I spend WAY too much. So to keep myself from spending too much but still get my 'fix' for new clothes, I signed up for StitchFix.

You sign up and select your preferences for size and style. Your stylist (mine is Ishara!) sends you a box of items they've picked for you. The 'styling fee' is $20.

Try everything on at your home, then send anything you don't like back. That $20 goes towards whatever you keep, and if you keep all five items you get a 25% discount. Sweet!

Let's check out my third StitchFix!

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StitchFix #2 Review

I'm obsessed with StitchFix and will be getting my fifth box in the mail in a few days. Here is my take on a box from back in May. StitchFix is a site where you tell all about your style and sizing preferences. Then, a stylist will send you five items picked just for you. You can try everything on at home and keep just what you want. The box comes with free shipping both ways, and a 25% discount if you keep all five items. A box costs $20, which goes towards the purchase of anything you keep! When you sign up, share your referall link for a $25 credit! Here is my referral link so you can get an invite: StitchFix.
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Why I Hate Shipping With USPS and Paypal

I apologize for the very LONG blog post, but I want to inform everyone out there of the screwy ways these companies do business! USPS, the United States Postal Service, recently screwed me out of about $300 due to the too-quick reaction of Paypal and the lazy shipping carrier service. So let me explain: I sell stuff on eBay all the time, and usually I don't have a problem shipping with USPS. I use an online stamps company for shipping, which is cheaper than buying stamps from the post office. I also use an insurance company to insure all my USPS boxes and I do all of my packaging labor at home. I avoid standing in line at the post office at all costs. I'm lucky that the USPS office near my home is just a quick walk away and I know the usual employee by name. She has always told me to just drop off my packages at her desk and she would scan them all in bulk. That way, I can skip the line, drop off my packages, and get back to my daily business. Not only is she incredibly nice, but very helpful too!
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Thank You For Your Support

If you've seen my last two blog posts, you know my Papa JD was in the hospital with a rare disease called AIP. He passed away on May 18th. Given that most folks who get AIP live for about 1.5 months, it goes without saying that my grandfather was strong and willing to live. He survived for almost a year.

My entire family misses him greatly, but I'm also very fortunate I was able to say goodbye to him a few months ago. We shared a few conversations and some laughs. He was in high spirits all the way to his last day. It was his choice to depart, and he waited until he was ready. 

I love you Papa JD.