Sons of Chaos Review

Image courtesy of IDW Publishing

This summer had lots of endings, what with the “Avengers'” story coming to an end, as well as several other popular TV series having their finales, such as “GoT,” “Elementary,” and sadly the recently canceled “Krypton.  However, there are a few new stories that are starting out too, such as “Carnival Row,” as well as a few others.   In addition to the big and small screen entries, there is also a new addition to the graphic novel universe, “Sons of Chaos.”

The publishers of this historically inspired tale have introduced it to the world as such:

The Greek War for Independence was a conflict that quietly influenced the entire world. Participants ranged from the London Stock Exchange to celebrities such as Lord Byron, as well as average impassioned Americans willing to transport themselves across the Atlantic to fight alongside the Greeks. This conflict was the pinnacle of what we now know as the Romantic Period and yet, it’s a war that few know ever existed outside of the Greek and Turkish cultures; a war that stimulated the fall of the Ottoman Empire and shaped what we now know as the Western World, and in a sense is being fought today under a different heading amongst the political leaders of the Eastern and Western worlds.

Fans of ultra gritty, sexually aggressive tales like “GoT” will feel right at home here. The story follows the main character from his rough childhood, through to his violent end.  Although the Greek War was real, the story here is part fiction and fact.  The illustrations are fine examples of how such illustrated panels can work seamlessly together to tell a story.  As of July this graphic novel is available in both digital and print versions.  It is still possible to see a 32 page preview for free at the book’s official page.  Parents should be aware that this is definitely geared towards adult readers.

Finding Waldo at Comic-Con equals prizes

pile of five books
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Finding Waldo might usually bring back fond (ok sometimes frustrating) memories from your childhood, but this weekend, dusting off those old skills might just earn you a prize. Just because you don’t have a badge to this year’s San Diego 2019 Comic-Con doesn’t mean you can’t participate either.  Badge, or not, everyone who walks into the Downtown Public Library is welcome to participate.

In fact, according to the official announcement, all 36 branches of the San Diego Public Library system will be participating in some way.  Finding Waldo in the branches can mean anything from collectable buttons, to special prizes; but you have to play to find out what they’ve hidden for you this year.

In addition to the search, you can also take the opportunity to pick up this year’s special “Where’s Waldo Comic-Con 2019” comemorative library card (available to all CA residents while supplies last).  This year’s card sports an image of Waldo holding a stack of books, as well as the Comic-Con official logo.  The downtown locaation will also be marking the close of Comic-Con weekend with a family friendly DJ Dance party on Sunday, check their website for more details.

Finally, for educators, and librarians, the free Comic Conference for Educators is still going on both Saturday and Sunday.  No badges are required for either day, but you may want to regisster ahead of time if you’ll need proof of attendance for your flex hours.  Saturday is based around k-12, and Sunday is deducated to using comics in college classes.o

Jane Goodall to speak at Esri plenary

black chimpanzee
Photo by Public Domain Pictures on Pexels.com

The Esri User Conference kicked into full swing today, down at the San Diego Convention Center.  As thousands of Geo Geeks converge on the Gaslamp district over the next several days, they all know they’re in for a treat.  Why you ask? It’s because this year’s theme of “The Intelligent Nervous System” means they’re about to learn how the Esri software products, platforms, and partnerships can all work together to help build a better world.

One such partnership that is being announced today is with the Jane Goodall Institute.  Utilizing the Esri Storyboard feature, Jane & friends have been able to strengthen their relations with the chimpanzees’ neighbors. The story if how that collaboration has been optimized using this technology is the main point of discussion in today’s late afternoon plenary session with Jane and E.O. Wilson.

If you’re not going to be one of the lucky ones in attendance yourself, then make sure to come back for a full rundown of what they had to share with the crowd. Stay tuned….

The results are in: Immunology 2019

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photo by Salena Wakim

 

Part of the concern in health circles regarding global warming comes from the growing reach of what were historically considered tropical diseases.  Understanding disease, and our immune systems response to it in general, has never been more important.  With that in mind, I stopped by the American Association of Immunologists  Immunology 2019 conference to see what the current state of our knowledge in this arena might be.

After listening to presentations, and looking over the huge collection of poster presentations being given, what quickly became evident was that it is definitely an internationally based quest; with players located around the globe participating in  various research projects to better help explain how the whole thing “AKA us” works.

New technological, molecular, and various other discoveries are being made.  In the end this should be good news for the health of us all.

Some examples of such research were the various studies being carried out among Polynesian societies in an attempt to better understand the growing cancer epidemic they’re experiencing.  Countries like New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, as well as a myriad of other island nations in the region are all experiencing high cancer rates among their Native populations.  While there are various reasons (biology, economy, etc.) why they are so high, one constant stood out as to why dealing with it is proving to be so difficult.  Many studies cited the income of the ill as a major hurdle to survival.

As such, many solutions are being tested, and are showing promise.  In addition to more public awareness, and getting med students involved in public outreach; several studies also proposed initial blood testing checks for the presence of cancer.  In trials, these pre-screenings have proven to be more successful in establishing an early start to the patients fight again their disease.

Multiple studies on Zika were also being reported on at the conference.  With the spread of this once geographically limited tropical disease, and the subsequent consequence of multiple babies being born with microcephaly, the world was once again made aware of the danger of such range expansions.  Although this research seems to still be a work in progress, the good news is that there are advances being made into just how Zika enacts the damage it finally does.  With these details in hand, the hope is that it will eventually be possible to interrupt the process, if now entirely prevent it.

Similar work is also being done by teams on the east coast, at institutions such as Duke and other universities, on how to increase the effectiveness of the Measles vaccine.  It seems that the immunity earned after contracting the disease is more effective, and longer lasting than that afforded by the current vaccine in use.  More work will need to be done, but such work will eventually lead to a future with better protections in place for future generations.

With multiple teams, working in labs all around the world, on improving these techniques, technologies and public awareness programs there is hope that our collective better understanding of the immune system will continue to lead us down the path to eventual successes.

Good luck to all of those who still carry on the fight of this most worthy cause.  We may not always voice it opening, but we all truly do appreciate your efforts.

SciFi steps up its game just in time for Earth Day

woman reading a book
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A couple of years ago I wrote an article about science fiction dropping the ball in regards to saving the future.  At the time, many story arcs were very dark, and filled with a sense if hopelessness, as the heroes all struggled to barely make it through the crisis at hand.  I posed the question “when was SciFi going to save the world again?,” with the hope of encouraging a return to hopeful endings that could inspire hope in the real world.  Well, it seems that SciFi is starting to respond to the challenge, all-be-it in a still slightly dark way.

Two prime examples of this are the shows ‘Siren‘ and ‘The Magicians.’  Each has taken on environmental issues, although one did so directly, while the other wrapped it in a magical cloak.  Siren, which is about mermaids, tackled the issue of over fishing in season one, and ocean contamination (both from sonic noise and oil drilling) in season two.  The message, delivered only as SciFi can, is that we share this world with other creatures, and our actions impact them too.  In this case we see the push back the mermaids give, in reaction to the threat we now pose to their watery homeland.

Over the last two seasons of The Magicians there has been a quest to return magic to the world.  In a very clever use if subtle symbolism, the writers used water to symbolize the “wellspring magic” that needed to be freed for everyone to use equally.  To deny its use became a human rights issue along the way.  This, if course, mirrors the ongoing debate surrounding the right to clean drinking water for all, which is currently being debated around the world.

Finally, SciFi seems to be using its influence, and use of imagery, to get people to start thinking about some if these real world environmental problems.  The one concern remaining is about some of the solutions being posed.  Siren ended its most recent season with the main characters pulling the entire cast together to carry out what can only be described as an act of eco-terrorism.  The Magicians, meanwhile, just wrapped up their fourth season with the successful freeing of the wellspring magic, but at the expense of the death of a main character, Quentin Coldwater.

Both storylines are set to continue, as both have upcoming episodes planned for the future, but both shows will be changed forever, as a result if what took place in their respective finales.

While I applaud both shows for being willing to take on theses topics without fear, I do pause to wipe away the tears that those last episodes brought on.  Hope has always been one of SciFi’s best weapons, as it could be used to evoke a belief that the future could be better, and that we can overcome any trial thrown our way (ex: Star Trek and Eureka).  Here’s looking forward to seeing that once these characters finally win their battles, that they (and us) can also still achieve a Happy Ending.  Otherwise what are we all really fighting for, if not for a better world?

Happy Earth Day everyone!

 

Best ways to solve the recycling problem

ball shaped blur close up focus
Photo by Porapak Apichodilok on Pexels.com

Well, since the worst ever Earth Day present in history has now been delivered by pretty much every media outlet in the world, you’ve probably already heard about the looming crisis in the recycling industry.  Those who have always been anti-recycling (and yes they exist) may be rejoicing, but if this system truly fails then it will be a significant setback for the planet.  So, with Earth Day coming up quick on the calendar, we must all decide how to respond to this latest challenge.  My suggestion is that the answer to the problem is YOU!

That’s right folks, just like the problem originated with us, it can be ended by us as well.  How, you ask?  Ironically the plan really isn’t that complicated.  We simply need to follow three basic steps to right this very lopsided ship.

  1. Don’t stop recycling, but make doubly sure that you’re doing it the right way.  Check with your local garbage company about what their rules are, and then follow them!  Set up a system at home for collecting your recyclables in a way that they won’t get contaminated by the regular garbage, and make sure you’re taking the time to prep and sort you’re recyclables accordingly.  For example, some refuse collection systems will take pizza boxes and egg cartons, but others won’t.  Some food containers might be acceptable, but only if they have had any remaining food debris cleaned out.  Having contaminants in the recyclables can actually get the entire batch rejected, so it’s important that we all get much better at monitoring this right from the start.
  2. Use less, and there’ll be less to deal with later.  Just like switching to reusable bags helps to put fewer plastic bags in the waste, and recyclables stream, the same concept applies in other areas as well.  When buying products think about what happens to it in the end.  Does it make sense to buy a quart of milk every couple of days, or can you just go ahead and buy a gallon? Not only does this take fewer trips to the store, but also takes less packaging that will later have to be dealt with as well.  Take stock of what you buy on a regular basis, and look for ways to improve the waste output by reducing the number of containers you’re putting into it.  If you’re thinking, larger containers of detergent and shampoo are so heavy , and inconvenient to use, there’s a simple solution, just keep one small bottle, and refill it from the larger container as needed.  That way you’re daily use still involves the smaller, easier to use container, but you also wind up consuming less packaging in the long run (win-win)
  3. Become the market for recycled goods yourself.  As they say, you can vote for product changes with your purchases.  If more people demand products that are made from, or contain a high percentage of recycled material, then companies will listen.  If you don’t believe me then just check out how many organic food options there currently are in your grocery store.  Trust me when I say that no mainstream company was waiting around to carry out that business decision.  No, they were forced into it by their customers demanding it.  So, if we all start e-mailing companies we buy from, and letting them know we’re no longer willing to buy products that have single use plastic as their main design element, then we will start to see a change.  As more products require recycled, and recyclable packaging materials, then the market for those components will grow.  Part of the process will, of course, be to look at our own consumption patterns and make corrections as needed, but it’s all doable in the end.   This won’t solve all of our environmental problem, but it is a good next step.  We all just have to be willing to try.  Happy Earth Day Everyone!!!

Get rewarded for eating healthy

close up of fruits in bowl
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If you watch TV at all then you’ve probably noticed those Domino’s adds stating that you can now get points towards a free pizza for uploading a picture of  any kind of pizza at all, including a heathy one you make at home yourself.  Well, they aren’t the only ones giving you props for eating healthy this spring.  It seems that the food world is all-a-buzz with different companies trying to encourage you to eat better, by giving away a bunch of free stuff.  Below you’ll find a list of just a few of them.  So, eat up, and good luck!

Cuties:  As if you really needed anther reason to love those awesome little mandarins, Cuties want to send you on vacation the Disney World.  All, you have to do is fill out their entry form, and cross you fingers for luck (well, maybe wash off all that juice first).

Milk:  If you live in California then you have access to California Milk.  Why is that important you ask?  Well, through April 26th the California Milk people are sponsoring a gift card giveaway, based on points you earn for drinking their milk.  For details, and sign up, check out the promotion website.  Once done, don’t forget to check you e-mail regularly for chances to earn bonus points along the way.

Barilla Pasta:  You have until July to participate in Barilla Pasta’s rewards program.  You must buy 4 boxes of any Barilla Pasta ( this can include the healthier options it seems as well), and then upload the receipt (check program details for deadline as it must be soon after purchase).  You’ll earn points towards prizes and/or events.

Check back, as more opportunities will be added as they come up.

 

 

Our furry valentines need extra love right now

dog wearing crochet scarf with fringe while sitting on snow selective focus photography
Ah, if only this could really keep him warm enough. Photo by Benjamin Lehman on Pexels.com

With all this blustery winter weather blowing through the nation right now, it’s important to take time, to make sure your pets can deal with it all ok. Remember that your furry little valentine shows you love and affection all year round, and now is not the time to be letting him or her down.  Afterall, they might have fur coats, but they don’t have shoes, now do they?

Snow and ice can easily cause damage to your dog’s and/or cat’s feet.  Realistically, even their fur probably won’t keep them warm enough to make it through the blizzards that are sweeping some parts of the country right now.  No, you need to take steps to make sure they’re safe, because if you don’t, who will?  They love you unconditionally, so it’s time to show them some love right back.

For some cold weather tips on how to help your pets this winter check out the ASPCA’s list of best helpful idea.

Happy New Year 2019

 

 

2018 is coming to an end tonight, and with that we will all be welcoming in 2019.  Thank you all for visiting this site over the past year, and don’t forget that you’re all welcome back in the new year as well.  Together we can work towards making this planet a little greener.

Over the next couple of weeks I’ll be holding a membership drive to hopefully increase readership.  I know that most people don’t really like subscribing to things, but as an incentive I’ll be giving away a Starbucks gift card to one lucky subscriber.  Everyone who is officially signed up as a subscriber at the end of January 31,2019 will be eligible (old and new members alike, but you do have to be here in the US since the gift card won’t work anywhere else), but you have to had confirmed that subscription to get an entry into the drawing (remember that e-mail asking you to confirm?  That’s what I’m talking about).  The winner will be posted in February, so make sure to tell you friends to sign up, and confirm their subscription, by January 31st, 2019.

Happy New (and greener) 2019 Everyone!!!!!

UPDATE:

Due to an issue with the subscribe button, I am extending the cutoff date to Dec. 31st, 2019.  So, if you or anyone you know haven’t done so yet, you now have some more time to subscribe, and enter to win the $25 dollar Starbucks gift card.  Good luck!!!!