2019 is almost over, and with its end, the Practically-Green.com subscriber gift card giveaway will finally see its winner selected.
However, that means Dec. 31st, 2019 is the last day to get your name in on the drawing for that $25 Starbucks giftcard. Fear not though, for all you have to do is Follow Us by Subscribing, and Confirming the subscription via the confirmation e-mail that gets sent your way. So, with only about 2 weeks left, now is the time to make your move, and click “subscribe.” Then cross your fingers, cause you just never know whose name might just get picked….
The turkey was great, the sales were nice, and the nap is long overdue. Thus goes the Thanksgiving holiday for many people. What is stirring world-wide criticism, is that despite encouraging thankfulness, it seems that this holiday is instead turning out to be more and more about consumerism; which in turn promotes waste. If that doesn’t sit well with you either, then there’s still time to do something about rebooting this holiday weekend to have true meaning once again. There’s a movement that revolves around this idea, you might even have heard of it before, #GivingTuesday.
This year #GivingTuesday falls on December 3rd, 2019. The idea is a simple one. You simply chose to give back to the world around you, with the goal of helping to make it a better place. To help explain the idea, the official site for the movement has the following opening statement:
“GivingTuesday is a global generosity movement unleashing the power of people and organizations to transform their communities and the world.”
If you’re wondering if anyone still truly gives back these days, well it seems that they really do. Thousands of people participated last year, and millions more give back every day, with or without the hashtag as an incentive. Even large organizations make giving back a standard part of their operations.
For example, after this year’s PMA Fresh Summit 2019, the various produce marketers exhibiting there, collectively donated the produce that had just the day before made up their beautiful displays. According to the official press release that followed, it was announced that “Fresh Summit exhibitors donated 228,400 pounds of fresh produce to the Second Harvest Food Bank of Orange County.“ Not too shabby a boost in fresh food supplies to local food banks that were starting to gear up for the holiday season. Mid-October finds many people beginning to worrying about the coming expenses they will encounter for Thanksgiving. Those who benefited from this donation would surly agree that being able to take advantage of the fresh fruits, vegetables, and even things like potatoes, garlic, and herbs was a wonderful result of an act of giving. You may not be able replicate such a large donation by yourself, but there are many other ways you can help out.
With the holiday season now in full swing, there are plenty of food and clothing donations going on in every community in the country. If you can add an item or two into the bin, you’ve begun the “giving” process (at it doesn’t only have to happen on Tuesday to count).
If you can’t give a donation like that, there is always a need for volunteers out there. Check with your local schools, libraries, or houses of worship for volunteer opportunities, and sign up if you can.
If “giving” time creates too much of a crunch in your life (hey, we’ve all been there), then there are still ways to help out, which don’t take much time, nor do they even require any money.
One example would be Carter’s children clothing store, and their PJs drive. Working in partnership with the Pajama Program for the past 10 years, Carters has worked to get warm PJs out to those children who are in need, in local communities around the nation. Of course monetary donations to the cause are welcome, but they aren’t necessarily the only way you can get involved. According to the instructions on the Donate PJs website, all you have to do is take a pic with PJ the penguin in your local store, then post it on Instagram @carters, and tag it with #lovecarterspjs. From there, Carter’s tallies the totals, and “for every donation or social share up to 100,000 jammies, Carter’s will donate a pj, too!”
It may seem like a small act of kindness, but if enough small acts are done by us all, then maybe something big can come of it. If you don’t have a Carter’s near you, check with your other retailers, you’d be surprised to find just how many of them are running similar donation programs. For example, Ralphs’ Community Contribution Program offers the option of adding a local charity or school to your Shopper’s club profile. All you do is shop as usual, and Ralphs will donate a percentage of what you spent to that organization (it doesn’t cost you anything but the time it took to sign up). Check with your local grocery store to see if they participate too. If not, Amazon also runs a similar program, check with their customer service for details.
If none of those suggestions appeal to you, then maybe you could help out with a local beach, or park cleanup instead. These go on year-round. Just google it, and see when your local groups have organized one in your area.
You can also help out with a Citizen Scientist project, just check out their list of those projects currently seeking helpers. Some can even be done right from the comfort of your own computer.
However, if you want an option that is literally closer to home, how about checking in with your neighbors to see if they need any help hanging those lights, instead of just waving at them as you drive by. Any little bit can help. Take a moment, and give it a good thinking over. What can you do to help out? For more ideas, check out the #GivingTuesday website. Find something that fits best with want you can handle right now, and pitch-in. So, how might you be #GivingBack today?
Halloween will bring buckets and buckets of candy, in some cases literally. After the joy of all that sugar starts to wear off, you might want to look for an even better sweet treat to snack on. At this year’s PMA Fresh Summit several fresh produce growers and marketers gathered to showcase their best, and most delectable varieties. Among them were two new Apple varieties that will be hitting a produce department near you, either this week or next. Allow me to introduce Lucy Rose and Lucy Glo.
These two new varieties of apple are as delicious to eat, as they are beautiful to look at.
What do they taste like? Well, let me fill you in. Coming from someone who really likes her Granny Smiths, Lucy Glo is a real contender to fight for title of my FAVORITE apple. It is tart, but tasty, with a nice crisp bite. Lucy Rose is similar to a Gala as far as its sweetness level is concerned, but it also retains a crisp bite as well, while some Galas tend to get a bit soft once they hit peak ripeness. However, the most startling thing is the color, as when you cut into either of these two you’ll find that the flesh is a pinkish, rosy color.
When I saw this, I had to of course ask about how they fair when used for cooking. The answer was, GREAT! According to the Lucy team, the flavors of both stand up to the heat, as does their color. So, just imaging the pretty Thanksgiving apple pie you can present to the family this year. All you have to do is locate some of these beauties first.
Remember that these are new to the market this year, so not everyone is going to be stocking them at first. If your produce manager doesn’t have them yet, make sure to demand your share of the Lucy Glo and Rose harvest. Once you get your hands on some, you’ll be wanting a whole bushel.
As a last nod to summer, while you’re checking out your local fruit stand, you might also want to grab the last of the peach crops to hit the produce aisle, AKA Moonlight. This peach variety, which is marketed by the same people that handle the Cuties mandarins, is grown in California, and is a super sweet peach. It’s been exclusively selling through Stater Bros. this year, so that’s where you’ll want to go. Moonlights are what a peach is supposed to be; with the smell, texture, and most importantly, the flavor that peaches have long been known for (but sadly have not always had in recent years). Moonlight is the one to eat for sure this year, but you’ll need to get them soon, as even this late season variety will be ending its run shortly too.
Photo by Markus Spiske temporausch.com on Pexels.com
Photo by Markus Spiske temporausch.com on Pexels.com
Photo by Markus Spiske temporausch.com on Pexels.com
Just a reminder that experts, and representative members from around the world will be addressing the issue of climate change today (9/23/19) at the United Nations Climate Action Summit 2019. Most local news outlets should be giving some coverage to the talks, but you can also get information via the U.N website as well. Just because our president is skipping it, doesn’t mean you have to.
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 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
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….
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 ImmunologistsImmunology 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.
NASA has posted an announcement that they are once again taking names to be included on the next Rover trip to Mars. If you are interested in adding your name in the history books, then check out the link for more details.
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?