The Steampunk Vicar

A Presbyterian Pastor on Neo-Victoriana and American Faith

Primer Codicoris

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Friends and Neighbours, members of the Mind Enhived, I crave your Indulgence. As some of you may know. I have been embarked on the Study of various Languages for the Programming of Electro-Differential Engines, notably the Grammars of Pythonidae and Carbunculus (better known to the illiterati as Python and Ruby). At this latest Juncture, I found I’ve hit something of a Wall, and am not sure how next to proceed.

The Academy of Code

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Imagine this with less Plato and more Tab

My first entre point into the Field of modern Coding was provided by Codecademy, who I highly recommend. Beyond the charming portmanteau of their name, their Primers on HyperText Markup Language (HTML, I am informed) and Cascading Style Sheets, as well as my first Foray into Ruby, were exceptionally good. The in-place Development Environment for Ruby was particularly helpful, and I feel that I’ve an excellent Groundwork, now.

Unfortunately, the next in their Succession of Projects is the Pursuit of Ruby upon Rails. I cannot begin to state my Excitement to learn this Skillset – for what red-blooded Victorian Man loves not Gemstones upon Locomotive Tracks? – but, alas – my Place of Employment does not support their Development Environment, and I was swiftly swamped by their Implementation.

Ad via per ardua

Sisyphus

Gentlemen, this is my Mountain. Find your own Hill to endlessly push a Rock up.

My next Endeavour was Learn Ruby the Hard Way, which has the Virtue of Honesty about it. Twelve Lessons in, I discovered that, indeed, the Gelatin of Ruby had been so compressed by these Methods that I was able to, successfully and independently, create my own Program of Interest to myself.

Sadly, I have now reached the Termination of the free (as in, free tea) Portion of the lessons. For nominally similar Fees, these two Web Sites will joyously offer me prodigious Excesses of increased Content – Codecademy in monthly Payments, Learn Ruby the Hard Way in a single one.

My Query to you all, wise Denizens of the Internet, linked in Mind by Optical Fibres and Aethernet – which of these should I pursue? Codecademy? Learn Ruby the Hard Way? Or some other Option I’ve not yet discovered?

The Floor is open, Friends. What think you?

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Ruby

Solvo Problemata

I turned to regard my Interlocutor as I waggled the Cursor across the limis between the Monitors. “Just so,” I said, indicating that, indeed, she would also be able to copy and paste Text across the Boundaries. “This Soft Ware will permit transference of Cursor, Key Board, and Data between the two Apparati.”

Mrs. Goldberg had a nearly indescribable Expression on her Face. “I find,” she said, “that I must rather restrain myself from dancing. Thank you, oh, thank you, Mr. Johnstone. You’ve no idea what a Difference this shall make to me.”

Yes, I rather think that I do, I thought wryly as I replaced my Hat upon my shiny Pate. I rather think that I do.

pcq8yexoi

Perhaps the single most frustrating Aspect of the Pastoral Work is the Crisis of Completion. Infrequently, at best, when one serves in the Parish, is one able to complete or succeed or repair. So much of Church Employment is pure Process, and rightly so. God is best understood as in Process and Perfect, Complete and in Motion all at once. So, too, the Person and Work of Christ, and the life of the Church, which is Christ’s Body in the World.

It is a Truth to which I must accede, but which I also detest, that a Pastor’s Work is Never Done. This speaks both to the Sisyphean Proportions of our Call, and to the daily and unending Rigour of its Execution.

And so, in this Hour of my own Transition, as I stand at a Multiplicity of Crossroads and work, possibly for the Nonce, possibly for the forseeable Future, at the Technology which was an early Interest of mine, I find the sudden, sharp Relief of proscribed Problems, to which there are definite and attainable Solutions. The Art of a Technician has Scope and Depth and Range, and an End – both in the Sense of Time completed, and in the Sense of Purpose.

My mission as a Differential Engine Professional is to help Users to succeed at their Objectives. Every Day, when I walk out the door of the Information Services Department, my Aim is to assure that Nurses, Doctors, Janitors, Purveyors of Food, Administrators, and, most of all, Patients are in a Position in which their Technology is completely invisible. I have failed when the Printer or the Computer or the Endoscope is a Thing Noticed, rather than a Thing Used.

For Mrs. Goldberg, her Technology had become an Obstacle. It was actively obtruding in the Flow of her Work. The Fix was complex – it required Time, and Tenacity to achieve, and the Courage to ask a Favor.

But the Light, the Expression of Joy in Mrs. Goldberg’s Eyes! Here is Triumph, here is the Victory! Not over the Children of Earth, but over their Creations. When I left Mrs. Goldberg’s Side, she was enabled, ennobled by a Sensation that her Life and Work were made easier by the Technology and Tenacity of her obedient Servant.

Treasure, too, has a Part to play in this Trifecta. All Hard Wares have Cost, and my Pay is not Insignificant. But grant me these three – Treasure, Time, and Tenacity, and I will ease your Burdens, restore your Services, make you User rather than Used. And I shall do so taking as little Treasure as I can conveniently arrange.

For I am the Steampunk Vicar. And I solve Problems.

Solvo Problemata

scheutzmachine3

Ave, Munde!

In the Interstices between Tasks in my current Employment, I am learning certain arcane and occult Arts. I have found an ætheric Academy and a sort of Forum for the Provision of differential Codes, and am embarking to learn what Needs must. In the near Term, I’ve a few Projects which would be greatly facilitated by Electromechanical Automation – in the more distant Future, I think it wise, even at the Expense of taking up an ungenteel Occupation, to diversify the Waterways of my Income.

In particular, I have been Amused and Fascinated by the extreme Persnickitiness of the various linguae programmantes. Such Peccadilloes as misplaced Punctuation, improper Capitals, even erroneous White Space can put my various Soft Wares into intolerable Fits of the Vapours!

Even so, slowly and surely, I feel as though I am approaching, if not Mastery, then certainly the Capability to achieve my – admittedly simple – Objectives. When I am aware that the Amount of Time that I spend acquiring Numbers and performing various mathematical Operations upon them could be vastly streamlined, I cannot but look to see how this Same might be Reached.

For the Nonce, I merely say to all the spinning Orb,

print “Ave, Munde!”

end.

Novus Locus!

As some of the cleverer among you may have discovered, the Site has Moved! Welcome to the new Unified Reticulated Locus for the Steampunk Vicar, http://www.steampunkvicar.com! This Site is now available for all your Neo-Victorian Clerical Needs.

More Updates are forthcoming, but for the Nonce, enjoy the fewer Key Strokes required to reach me!

You may also now contact me at the new Electronic Post Address, vicar@steampunkvicar.com. It is in all functional Ways indistinguishable from my previous Address, save that it is more in Theme!

Thank you, dear and supportive Friends! And to the Rest of you, may Science fail you!

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Why would you say that? That’s horrible!

De Diebus (or When You Might Not Want to Schedule Your Wedding)

When Shall We Two Join in Train?

calendar72Of Course, dear Readers, I should never dare to dictate to you the Details of your Wedding. As many of the Internetizens whose Weblogues and Fora I have read suggest, the Wedding is the Affair of those Persons being married – a large Party for your Guests, your Family, and your Friends, but, centrally, for the two of You. As such, the ultimate Arbiters of all Matters are, indeed, You. Your various Vendors (Florist, Caterers, Photographers, Videographers, Dirigible Captains, and, of Course, your Servant) will inform you of what they can or cannot achieve, and you will balance your Employment based on their Requirements and Abilities.

However, if you wish to obtain for yourself the greatest Flexibility in your Vendors, and, most especially, your officiants, you will pay Heed to the proceeding Advice.

During Business Hours

I am by no means immune to the Arguments in Favor of the Friday Vespers Wedding, say five Hours after the Meridian. Venues, Vendors, and many other divers Expenses shall decrease. Time for Jollity and Merrymaking are maximised, and any Honeyed Moons commence at earlier Dates and Times. Surely, there are excellent Reasons to schedule at just such an Hour.

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I regret to inform you that I shall be too busy reading and knitting to attend.

As a personal Matter, however, I must admit that such Weddings are an automatic “Swipe Sinister” for me. I am not (currently) employed by the Church, and so my Labour is more fixed than once it was. Not only would I have some Difficulty attending such a Wedding broadly, but it would be nigh impossible for me to take off the Time required by such an Event.

As strongly as I word the Editorial above, I intensify it thusly – Weddings at Teatime on a Tuesday are incredibly discourteous to Guests, Family, and any Vendor unfortunate enough to not be able to serve at Weddings full time. How precisely a Couple might be available at such an Hour (understanding that Many in the present Œconomy are working at peculiar Shifts), I am not sure. Never the less, I am unavailable, and so, too, are many of my Colleagues.

I am not the only Officiant in the Sea, (see you what I did there?) but you will lose some Options with a Wedding during Business Hours.

Times of Spiritual Weight

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No, I shall not celebrate your Union with part of the Cross. Please depart immediately, or I shall summon the Beadle.

I speak here uniquely for the Christian Crowd, and for those whose “non-denominational” Solemnizers identify in that way. Any Priest, Pastor, Minister, or Elder worth their Incense will be unavailable for the Whole of Holy Week, and very likely the Week to follow. This is the greatest Celebration of the Faith, no matter the Altitude of your Church, and it shall not be missed. Thus, I should block out the three Weekends – Palm Sunday, Easter Sunday, and the First Sunday after Easter, and make it a Point to arrange your Nuptials on some other day.

By the same Token, I caution against Marriages during the Christian Seasons of Lent and Advent. These Seasons of Preparation and Prayer are best observed with a Cleric’s full Attention, and long Tradition in much of the West in Fact forbids such Celebrations at those Times. When Their Graces of Cambridge (“Will” and “Kate” I find obscenely on the Aethernet) were first engaged, many thought that the Wedding would take place in March. The cognoscenti, however, knew that the Bishops of the Church of England would by no Means permit such a Ceremony in Lententide. Indeed, that Royal Wedding waited for the more appropriate Easter Season, as well it should have done.

The same goes, I suppose, for those of the Jewish Faith and the High Holy Days in the Autumn (I find here extensive Lists of Days Recommended, not Recommended, and Forbidden), and, I find, there is Reason for Muslims to be thoughtful about Marriage during Ramadan. I find no obvious Guidance on Weddings in Hinduism or Buddhism, and would advise any such Adherents to consult their own spiritual Leaders on the Matter.

When It Is Wrong For You

Perhaps an over-broad Categorization, and yet…many in my Industry and the Digital Photographs of my Generation will be all too happy to tell you the precise Details of the Perfect Wedding. Glorious Sunsets, unbelievable Vistas, gorgeous Vestments, delectable Dishes ~ all are the Stock in Trade of my fellow Vendors. The Perfect Wedding, however, is the One in which you are marrying the Person whom you Love. If, for any Reason, you have Cause to doubt the Wisdom of such a Union, I urge you to postpone, to delay, or to cancel if you must. No Sum of Treasure, no Flights or Plans, no Dreams or familial Expectations can be worth the Devastation of being married to the Wrong Person (or the Right Person…at the Wrong Time).

Victoria And Edward

No one seems to think that this is a Good Idea

As well – this Wedding, as we have said again and again, is Yours! Make it thus! Have you always wished for a snow-bound Ceremony? Make it so! Does the Change of Leaves turn your Romantic Heart? Let your Life then be turned! Do not be Steam Locomotived into a summer Wedding because it is “The Thing That Is Done.” Do not be wed when it is wrong for you.

 

De Sacredote in Nuptiis (or, Five Reasons Why You Want Your Officiant at Your Wedding Rehearsal)

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In my original Time Line, Her Majesty Queen Victoria at this point had her Mechanical Wings

As I continue on the Journey of officiating at an increasing Number of Weddings for Persons with whom I am unacquainted, I find that often, in the Catalogue of Requests, my Presence is not required at the Rehearsal for the Wedding. Many of you Brides and Grooms seem to feel that the Officiant will not add Value to this Event…I suppose? I find some of your Reasoning rather obscure.

 

If, as seems to be the Practice among many of our modern Iconoclasts, the “Rehearsal” is simply an intimate Dinner for the Bridal Party and associated Families, I am wholly in support of these couples’ Forbearance. There is little more awkward than a Cleric at a Party at which she knows no one, and such Clergy have an unfortunate inhibiting Effect on the Jollity that should proceed from such Festivities.

If, however, the “Rehearsal” is in truth a Rehearsal, and will feature a review of what is to come with Groom(s), Bride(s), Maid/Matron/Man of Honor, Best Man/Woman, other Groomsmen, Bridesmaids, Bridesmen, Groomsmaids, Parents of the Couple, Ring-bearers, Flower Children, Ring-bearing Dogs, Musicians, Interpretive Dancers, Bagpipers, and the like, then my Presence, as your Officiant, is most certainly required ~ for the following Reasons, as I shall now demonstrate.

I. I Shall Corral the Circus

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One of my favorite Weddings

Having been involved in Weddings which involved all of the Elements listed above (save the Dancers, at least thus far), I have a Wealth of Experience in bringing Order from the Chaos of these sundry Personalities and Priorities. I can help to guide Photographers and Bridal Parties in the choicest Places to stand, and can, through Jokes and Japes, maintain the whole of the Cavalcade in good Humour as we await the inevitable Delays. Children, Dogs, and all other such Actors do not faze me, and nor shall they faze you, as we practice what is to come.

 

II. We Will Do Better with One Run-Through

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Gilbert is much funnier in my Time Line, but Sullivan’s Music is superior here

Arguably, your Wedding is one of the most important Ceremonies of your Life ~ perhaps the most important, depending on your Career, etc. No one anywhere in the Spheres thinks it wise to perform a Ceremony with no Practice. Even if there is but one Run-through of the whole Process, there shall be then no Confusion amongst the Participants about what will happen, or in what Order. A Rehearsal solidifies Lines, the proper Blocking, to wit, where the Participants will Stand, the Order of the Service, and in general, the Expectations of the Couple and the Officiant. Re-inforcing the tasks of your less able Participants (cf. Dogs, Children, Grandparents, or inattentive Friends) can only help them to make your special Occasion even more special.

 

III. We Will Catch Things

“Oh,” your fainting Groom will say to you as I pose a Query that had occurred to no one. “I hadn’t thought of that.” No, you had not. It is conceivable, though unlikely, that you have participated in as many Weddings as I have, in the Office of Bridal Party or otherwise. Believe me when I tell you, though, that, there are always Details that evade even the most assiduous Planner, Groom, or Bride. Taking time enough to assure that all concerned are on the same Page minimizes those tiny (or enormous) Surprises with which all Life, and especially Marriage, are seasoned. Is the Music prepared? Are the instruments in tune? Will both Brides be able to safely ascend the Stairs? Will the Height of both Grooms need to be accentuated? Is there some sort of Sand that we intend to use, and can we practice with it beforetimes? Better far to encounter these Challenges the Day before than the Moment of.

IV. I Will Feel Better

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I sit at Home with this Expression on my Visage

I realise that this is largely immaterial to you, dear Betrotheds, but I am taking a certain Measure of Responsibility for the smooth Operation of your Nuptials, even when you ask me not to attend a Rehearsal. This can be, for me, rather an anxious Process, as I put many Hours into the Crafting of your Service, and I should like very much to do the Thing Up Right. I was much mortified when a couple whose Marriage I was solemnizing began uncontrollably to giggle during the second Prayer. I would have gladly cut the Prayer, had they asked ~ they did not know to ask, as we had not a Chance to rehearse! My Shame was a Shock, and did the Couple no Favours. I stress far more over those Weddings for which I feel unpreparerd, lying sleepless the preceding night. Please ~ for the sake of my poor, weary Brain ~ let us have a Rehearsal.

 

V. You Will Feel Better

Much more relevant to your Interests, you as a Couple will feel better having rehearsed your Wedding. My Sister once noted that, at the Altar, “One’s febrile brain has traveled to Tahiti.” Your full Cognition will not be available to you at this Time. Believe me ~ I speak from Experience. In order to maximise your Memory of the Blesséd Event, you may wish to have heard the Words previously, to have encountered the Rhythms and some Inkling of what may be to come. I aver that you will sleep better, plan better, and feel, in general, better, if you have, at least once, walked through the Liturgy, the Locations, and the Timing.

At a previous Wedding, the Maid of Honor and the Photographer got into an Altercation on where the Couple should stand. I was the loud and shameless Voice who asked what the preferences of Groom and Bride would be, for which the Groom subsequently thanked me profusely. My paramount Aim is to make your Wedding as memorable and special as I can arrange, and I will do so with much greater Effect if you are in a calm and joyous Frame of Mind ~ most easily attained when you know precisely what is coming. I can make no Promises for the Future of your Marriage; I pledge myself to the excellent Effect of your Wedding. Let us give it one go beforehand.

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What do you think? Have you Stories of hideous Horrors averted or suffered due to a Rehearsal, or the Lack thereof? Have you a Reason I did not explore that a Wedding should go unrehearsed?

De Belli Astrae, v. 2

Oh, dear Friends of mine – I am beyond thrilled. Excited past all that might be reasonable for a Victorian Gentleman lost out of Time and cast upon the Twenty-first Century in Her Majesty’s rebellious American Colonies. For, you see…the Stars march once more to War.

There are many truly fascinating Moments of Cinema in this Era and Timeline, but, in this humble Narrator’s proud Opinion, Star Wars exceeds them all. It is a crowning Triumph of Storytelling, of Practical Effects, of Moral Theory, and so much more.

I rather enjoy those Films. You might have noticed.

Therefore, in Honor of the Arrival, this Week, of the Seventh Episode of the Series, I share with you all one of my favorite graphical Representations of that Universe.

Enjoy!

http://www.bjornhurri.com/category/steampunk-2/

De Hospitibus

I rather cannot believe that I feel obliged to say this aloud. The Point seems so elemental, so obvious to me from where I stand, that I cannot envision any Person imagining I could have any other Perspective. Certainly, likewise, I have great Difficulty in interpreting the perspectives of others on this Issue. Still and all, I must speak, lest I should keep an unholy Silence on one of this Nation’s greatest Trials. Thus, say I:

I condemn the Words of Mr. Donald Trump of New York, and the Attitudes and Fears that lie behind them. I declare myself opposed to any Abridgement of the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America, notably the Establishment of Religion and the Right to Peaceable Assembly. I, as an ordained Teaching Elder of the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America, as a Christian living in this Nation, yea, even as a human Being, I refuse to bow to Terror and the political Pressures of Thugs and Murderers from Abroad or Domestically. As Pastor, Christian, and Man, I declare that I support and endorse my Muslim Sisters and Brothers, their Right to worship as they choose, their Right to live and work in this Country, yea, their Right to live.

In support of this Standpoint, considered almost not at all by myself before its Composition, I offer the following Verses of Scripture.

First, from the Exodus of Israel, the Twenty-second Chapter, the Twenty-first through the Twenty-third verses:

21 Thou shalt neither vex a stranger, nor oppress him: for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt. 22 Ye shall not afflict any widow, or fatherless child. 23 If thou afflict them in any wise, and they cry at all unto me, I will surely hear their cry;

And then, from the Gospel according to St. Matthew, the Twenty-fifth Chapter.

35 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:

Friends, this is the Gospel of our Lord. Not a Gospel of secured Borders and backgrounds Checked. Not a Gospel of watch Lists and Visas denied. Not a Gospel that says “No, not you.” The Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ promises us no Safety, no Security, no Shelter, and no Succor. The Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ promises us Christ alone…and eternal Life. And this promise it makes to Everyone, especially to Strangers, regardless Color or Nation.

And thus I say, to the estimable Mr. Trump – sir, you are wrong, and you do not speak for me. I speak for myself, when I say that I welcome Refugees, Immigrants, Muslims, and Persons of every Stripe and Kind to my Table. I so speak in the Name of Jesus the Christ, and I welcome these and more than these in His Name.

For my fearful Neighbors and Friends, I can say only this – if you believe on Jesus, then Anything you suffer in the Name of the Peace of Christ Jesus is a Martyrdom in His Witness. I should rather die a Victim of Terror than live a Victor because of it.

 

Post Scriptum

I considered linking to Mr. Trump’s Remarks, but shall choose instead to deny him further air Time. He must be taken seriously, as he currently leads the Polling for the Republican Party’s presidential Nomination. As with any communicable Illness, I shall choose hereafter to quarantine his Thinking, the better to prevent its Spread.

De Clerico

In the Course of composing at the CREDO Conference in Roslyn, VA, I came across a rather remarkable Revelation.

A Portion of my Youth was misspent in that possibly heathenous pursuit of Dungeons and Dragons, a Role Playing Game of a fantasy Theme. Many happy Hours I whiled away in collaborative Storytelling, taking the part of an Elf or Dwarf or Gnome, a Fighter or a Wizard or a Druid.

My favorite Class to play, however, surprising No One, was the Cleric – that Channeler of the Power of the Gods, their Representative among the mortal Races. For Reasons that would become clear subsequently, I am very attracted to the Concept of the Figure of religious Authority. I identify with such Characters – they carry deep Meaning and Weight for me.

Now that I am, in fact, a Cleric of the American Church of Scotland, I had become disconnected from a Fact which would have served me well in my Ministry.

According to the Game Rules for the Third Edition of Dungeons and Dragons, in order to cast Spells, a Cleric must spend a Minimum of one continuous Hour in study or prayer each Day. Other Powers and Skills remain in Play. but a Cleric’s most powerful Abilities require an Hour’s Communion with their chosen Deity.

In discerning new Practices for my Life, I have chosen to take on this Burden. If I am to do pastoral Work, I must spend at least one Hour that day in Study, Prayer, or Meditation. I can commit to other Duties, those of Home or Family, but my Employ as a Pastor demands a single Hour of my Attention to God – or there is no Spell that I can cast.

A large Burden – but one I am overjoyed to be taking on.

De Sedi Argenteo

chronicles-of-narnia-silver-chair-book-cover[1]The penultimate Moment of the rising Action of Clive Staples Lewis’ The Silver Chair relies on the eponymous Seat. A mysterious Prince explains to the Protagonists that his mental Health requires the nightly Use of an enchanted Throne. Each Evening, the Prince’s Attendants appear, and secure him into the Cathedra. For a single Hour, he raves in stark Insanity, dangerous and violent, as he relates it. The Queen of that Place has magicked that Seat so that it helps this Prince to maintain his Sanity over the remainder of the day. Twenty three Hours of the Day his Faculties are in Order – for a single Hour, he is overtaken by the Spirit.

The Prince invites our Heroes to observe this unclean Hour, to stay hidden and watch as he rants in abject Lunacy. They stay – they watch. The mad Prince claims from the Silver Chair that only at this Hour is he in his right Mind – it is the Chair that binds him, traps him in a Prison of his own Mind the greater Part of the Day. One hour he has of Clarity, and the rest of his Time is shrouded in Darkness.

So, indeed, it proves. The Chair is the Source of the Enchantment that the Queen (read: Witch) has laid upon the Prince, the rightful Heir of the Throne of Narnia.

I write all this to say that, for my own Experience, Depression often feels as though I am that Prince. Much of my Day, I am lucid and clear. I am operative – as I told my Physician when I embarked on the Course of Anti Depressant Medications, I hoped that they would make me functional, and they have. I have recovered my Mind sufficiently to present as Working, to seek new Employment, to spend Time with Friends and Family.

And yet…there comes an Hour, late in the Night, often as I am taking my evening Ablutions. The Light is gone. A Peace steals down the Stairs, a Centering. I find, of a sudden, that a Yawn transforms into a Sob, and I am weeping in the Dark. All that I have failed to do, all those broken Dreams, shattered Promises, they press upon my Chest, and I am undone.

To this Day, to this Hour, I do not know, though, which is which. Am I mad at that accursed Hour? Or is that my moment of Sanity in each Day? Am I bound by ancient Sorcery to grin and salute and be gracious, while all the while some Part of me is screaming? Or is that passing Madness a Symptom, a Weight that presses on me now, but will lift again?

To be fair to all those who love me best, I am doing better. My days are less fraught. I feel less perilous, less like I stand on a Precipice of Madness. These wearying Troughs weaken – my Peaks begin to resemble an ordinary day.

Still I wonder. Which is the mad Prince? And which of us is Sane?

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