My battle against spinal stenosis

I’ve had back problems for the last decade. Sometimes I would wake up to horrible muscle spasms in my upper back. Doctors initially tried to addressed this with anti-inflammatories & muscle relaxers. They barely masked the symptoms and did nothing to address the root cause.

Moderate scoliosis (curvature of the spine) was suspected as the source of the problem. Physical therapy offered some relief, but the problems always seemed to come back a few months later.

A couple years ago it got worse: I started having numbness and tingling in two fingers on my right hand. Reaching down to pick things up from the floor or sleeping in the wrong position could lead to my entire right arm and shoulder going numb. In 2016 I underwent a battery of diagnostic tests: MRIs of hand, shoulder, neck. EMG nerve test, finally neck X-rays revealed the source of the problem. My diagnosis: severe stenosis of the spine, a disease that involves degeneration of the disks that separate the vertebrae, compression of the nerves going between the bones.  I was told that I have: “a spine that looks like somebody 20 years older” than me.

Continue reading My battle against spinal stenosis

How Did Trump Get Elected?

November 8th, 2016—  a day that will live in infamy— when a dark campaign of xenophobia, racism and sexism lead to the election of Donald Trump: an unqualified con-artist demagogue, as the next President of the United States.

I fixated on this election for a great deal of time. When thoughtful people I relied on for insight were proven wrong one after another, my amusement gave way to concern. Satire stopped being funny. When the outcome became clear, my first reaction was to curl into the fetal position and weep at the thought of the damage this choice could lead to. Then came the rapid cycling through the phases of grief, with the only solace being that I’m not part of one of the unprivileged groups that our next president so viciously attacked during his campaign.

Trump’s message of change built a coalition of voters dissatisfied with the status quo: the economically insecure, the party loyalists, the evangelicals, the white nationalists. Some facet of his message was enthralling enough that Trump’s voters were willing to overlook or tolerate what so many of us perceived as disqualifying.

Like the victims of Trump University, these desperate Americans made a poor choice about who might lead them to a better future. Obama couldn’t help them flourish, why would they choose more of the same? Their plight was difficult for me to comprehend from inside my liberal elite bubble where I’ve been blinded by good fortune.

Democrats like me could have made a wiser strategic choice. I chose Hillary because I thought she would be a considerate leader who could moderate the partisan divide. I also thought she could beat Trump. But the people who determined this election were in no mood for levelheaded continuity.

I didn’t understand the resentment and animosity that people had towards Hillary and the establishment she represented. I didn’t understand the apathy and disaffection that so many have with the system. I didn’t foresee the confluence of ignorance, gullibility, hyper-partisanism, bad information security and nefarious foreign interloping.

This is the first of a four-part series of blogs. Next, I’ll write about what Trump could do, who let Trump happen, and how Trump can be resisted. These are difficult to write, I won’t have all the answers, but I hope that these words achieve more than my own personal catharsis.

[featured photo by Gage Skidmore]

Please Vote for Hillary Clinton


In 2003 we invaded a sovereign nation with the goal of keeping weapons of mass destruction out of the hands of a tyrant. Now we face a similar decision. Even if you disagree with everything she stands for, Hillary Clinton is the only viable and sane choice for president.

My Daughter’s futures are at stake. Will they grow up in a country that can accept men acting the way that Trump does? Will Trump become a role model for the boys that they will have to deal with as they mature? God forbid.

To conservatives republicans who intend to stay loyal to their party’s nominee. The reckoning that your party must have will only be made worse by electing this demagogue scoundral. Your once great party and the House of representatives they control will still be able to prevent Hillary from achieving any major legislation that you stand in opposition to.

To my evangelical Christian family members in the midwest who think that Trump might nominate Supreme Court justices that oppose abortion and LGBT equality. There is some chance that he will but, but it won’t be worth sacrificing the values of decency and kindness that you hold dear.

To my Libertarian, Green and Independent friends who plan to vote for Johnson, Stein or McMullin. These protest votes will narrow the margin of Clinton’s victory and could effect the outcome. Until there is ranked choice / instant runoff voting, these protest votes are insignificant compared to the threat that Trump poses to our nation and our species.

To my “friends” who are repeatedly calling for an armed uprising after the election doesn’t go your way: you will find that not all liberals are pacifists. If you knew the hell of war, you would not be wishing for it. Go spend some time in Syria and your craving for violence will be extinguished.

For the good of our nation, Trump and Trumpism must be crushed in a landslide. The wider the margin of victory, the less chance that any post-election violence will spiral out of control. Let’s not take any chances.

I don’t believe that Hillary is the lesser of two evils. I don’t believe She’s evil. She isn’t perfect, she will make mistakes, but I am pleading for you to give her your vote.

Anxiously yours, -Henry Koren


SpaceX Falcon9 First Stage Landing

I really should update my blog more often. So much is going on in my life, unfortunately this space has gone stale.

In other news, SpaceX just landed the first stage of a rocket they used to launch a satellite into orbit, a monumental  milestone in space exploration:

Those are some happy rocket scientists!