Disposing of GMOs

The rice we grow in one of my lab's greenhouses.
The rice we grow in one of my lab’s greenhouses.

Yesterday I was working out at the greenhouse for my rice genetics lab.

I was getting rid of some old rice plants that we’d collected the seed from and no longer needed.

If a plant got to this point in a garden you’d normally throw it in the compost so it would be useful next year.

That’s not allowed for the rice we work with in my lab because it is an untested transgenic line.

Some members of the public dislike altering the genetics of food crops to create genetically modified organisms (GMOs). There are a couple of logical reasons for this and a couple of illogical ones.

Logical reasons include: religious objection, lack of crop diversification, cross-species allergens, and the strengthening of agribusiness monopolies that often accompanies GMO crop use.

Illogical reasons often have something to do with safety or not knowing what is in a product when you purchase it at the grocery store.

I could go on about this a lot. GMOs are a complex topic with a lot of ground to cover, but that wasn’t why I was writing this post today.

Because of the fear of GMOs, they need to go through extensive testing before they are declared legally safe. This testing can take up to ten years.

We don’t do that for every strain of modified rice in our lab, so certain precautions need to be taken.

Yesterday I cut off all the excess seeds on the old rice plants. The seeds go into a plastic bag.

The seed bag and the leftover portion you can see above both go into an orange dumpster at the center of the greenhouse complex.

All the stuff in the orange dumpster then goes into a special oven that ensures the modified crops won’t somehow get into the wild and start growing there.

After the special oven, called an autoclave, has destroyed the genetic material in the rice it can go into a normal dumpster or be used for compost.

Just another little glimpse at my job!

-Mister Ed

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An Overview of Gurutama Part 12

D&D Races

Previous: An Overview of Gurutama Part 11

I lied! There was one more Gurutama Overview of Races post left.

Dawn of Worlds has a slightly different game definition of what a fantasy race is.

In D&D a fantasy race is any genetic group similar to humans in shape, intelligence, and power (no angels or demons).

In Dawn of Worlds a fantasy race is a construct for influencing the world.

A Dawn of Worlds race doesn’t even strictly need to be people. It could be something like a combination of computer programs.

What this means is that some of the typical fantasy races in D&D were not created in our Dawn of Worlds game.

Orcs, halflings, gnomes, gnolls (dog people), etc, were not created as official races in the Dawn of Worlds game that created Gurutama.

That doesn’t mean those races don’t exist in Gurutama!

All that means is that we decided the world’s history already had enough forces influencing it with the races we had created.

So what place do the other races have in Gurutama?

It depends on which race you’re asking about.

Halflings and gnomes exist in Western Hearthland, the dwarven continent.

The halflings and gnomes are also buddies with centaurs that live in that area.

Goblins (smaller versions of hobgoblins) live all over the place, but have a large concentration within the Turashtegal Jungle.

Orcs live all over the place too.

We’ve been discussing the placement of other races within Gurutama such as gnolls and bugbears, but nothing concrete has been decided yet.

My plan is to hammer out the timeline over my next few posts on Gurutama and then get into the specifics of other parts of the fantasy world.

I just wanted to let you all know that the other races were not left out. They were just not heavy-hitters in our Dawn of Worlds baseball game.

-Mister Ed

An Overview of Gurutama Part 11

The Grez inhabit or threaten any place covered by ice.
The Grez inhabit or threaten any place covered by ice.

Previous: An Overview of Gurutama Part 10

And I’m finally on the last race to cover in Gurutama, the Grez.

The Grez are the destroyers of the Trimurti theme we had for races in Dawn of Worlds, but in the traditional way we think of destruction.

The Grez don’t tear down buildings, or set people on fire, or wreck art of any kind.

The Grez are wraith-like beings that live in the frozen north and all they want is to expand their ice-covered territory.

The ice in the north started spreading out of the Grez’s home in the mountains of Glacierstone and as you can see, it now covers a decent amount of the top half of the Gurutama map.

The Grez can only live in extremely cold places. The Grez wish to expand where they can live, but in doing so they make territory uninhabitable for all other races.

The Grez are similar to the Walkers from Game of Thrones. They are cold beings from the north, expanding south using undead servants.

The Grez are ruled by a god figure called Reesrevo.

The Grez have come into conflict with the humans and the dwarves.

The Grez attack whenever a country looks weak, taking advantage of that weakness to add to their territory.

The Grez present an obvious villain in our Dawn of Worlds campaign. Everything they do is evil, even if it is necessary for them to do such things to reproduce/live.

Unfortunately, no nation has come forward in opposition to the Grez. They continued to expand south in the Dawn of Worlds game up until the very end.

The Grez also had a unique naming convention for their cities and the race itself.

Grez is Zerg backwards.

For those who have played Starcraft a lot of stuff probably clicked just now.

The ice is creep. Reesrevo is Overseer backwards and he is the Overmind from Starcraft. The undead servants are infested Terrans. You get the idea.

The cities, Reesrevoton, Ksilartlu, and Ksilardyh are Not Overseer, Ultralisk, and Hydralisk spelled backwards.

The Grez while a functional race in Dawn of Worlds are unlikely to be a PC race once Dawn of Worlds starts functioning as a campaign world in my group’s D&D campaigns.

-Mister Ed

Next: An Overview of Gurutama Part 12

How I Drink Water

The nutrition facts and ingredients on a fruit punch Gatorade bottle.
The nutrition facts and ingredients on a fruit punch Gatorade bottle.

I like to drink water out of Vitamin Water and Gatorade bottles.

They hold a lot of water and the top is perfect for drinking without that “Glug-Glug” noise or spilling.

I can cap them for taking on hikes and their shape is just right for fitting in my back pocket.

I reuse the bottles. I only buy a new one when I lose an old one or when one melts in the dishwasher.

I keep a few of the bottles around my house and fill one up whenever I’m thirsty (often).

While on my vacation in Sacramento I left one of my bottles in the hotel room while I was at the festival.

When I came back my bottle was gone! The cleaning staff had removed the bottle when they changed the sheets, thinking it was trash!

The cleaning staff had the further audacity to think that the money I left on my desk was a tip and leave a tip envelope! (That was sarcasm. Hard to convey on the internet, I know).

I tipped them and gave up the bottle as lost forever.

I needed a new one though! I got the one pictured above today!

I took a picture of the ingredients label specifically because I noticed something new.

Gatorade previously had corn syrup in it. Now it just has sugar!

I am allergic to corn. It makes me itch a lot.

I love Gatorade though. I used to drink it all the time, but I would suffer for it.

And now I don’t need to!

I foresee a fridge filled with Gatorade soon.

-Mister Ed

Sacramento Music Festival 2014

I went to the Sacramento Music Festival for a vacation this Memorial Day weekend with my wife and my parents-in-law. Here are some pictures of all the stuff that was going on there.

Here’s what our hotel was like.

The Governor's Inn where we stayed had birds named after the Reagans.
The Governor’s Inn where we stayed had birds named after the Reagans.
First time I got room service with my wife!
First time I got room service with my wife!

We went on a walk along the river by our hotel.

Here's a bridge in Sacramento by our hotel.
Here’s a bridge in Sacramento by our hotel.
There was this weird water thing in the river.
There was this weird water thing in the river.
An abandoned boat out in the river by our hotel.
An abandoned boat out in the river by our hotel.
The abandoned boat was an anomaly. Most of the boats were sailing around like this one.
The abandoned boat was an anomaly. Most of the boats were sailing around like this one.
The Rusty Duck Restaurant is quite rusty as it has been abandoned for awhile.
The Rusty Duck Restaurant is quite rusty as it has been abandoned for awhile.
An abandoned PG&E block building.
An abandoned PG&E block building.

And we went to the festival where my father-in-law was playing.

We were stuck in line for one of the music sets, but there was a polevaulting event outside to watch!
We were stuck in line for one of the music sets, but there was a polevaulting event outside to watch!
Here the girl is going over the bar.
Here the girl is going over the bar.
The girl did not make it over the bar.
The girl didn’t quite makeĀ it over the bar. She hit it on the way down.
A bunch of Hawaiian kids played some covers on the street to earn money for college.
A bunch of Hawaiian kids played some covers on the street to earn money for college.

The College Fund band that we saw on the street has a Facebook page. Here’s the link.

My father-in-law's band playing some 20's jazz.
My father-in-law’s band playing some 20’s jazz.

My father-in-law’s band is called the Royal Society Jazz Orchestra (RSJO). You can check out their website here.

And that was my weekend! Lots of music and lots of fun!

-Mister Ed

An Overview of Gurutama Part 10

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Previous: An Overview of Gurutama Part 9

If you know your Latin roots then you can already guess what type of people the Rana of Gurutama are.

Rana is Spanish for frog and the Rana are frog people.

The Rana live in and around Tonsil Lake and joined the Hykman League.

The Rana are pacifists, but they recognize that the violence that threatens the world can often only be countered by violence.

In order to meet violent threats without direct intervention, the Rana have a tradition of forging amazing swords and other weapons.

Chances are that if an adventurer finds a magic sword it was made by a Rana and gifted to a hero in the past to bring light in dark times.

The Rana are also accomplished artists and doctors.

A Rana organization called the Monks of the Gossamer Waves functions like the Red Cross in Gurutama. They provide aid to whomever requires it.

Because of their amphibian biology and passive nature it is rare to see a Rana far from Tonsil Lake or the Hykman cities surrounding it.

Rana that travel far afield are either Monks on missions or outcasts due to their rejection of the Rana’s pacifist culture.

Because the Rana do not often leave their home country they have had little influence on world affairs as a whole.

However, within the Hykman League the Rana are always involved in the betterment of all people, big or small, rich or poor.

Recent events in the Hykman League have caused some Rana to act against the Hykman government. This is due to a resurgence of Navillus worship in the Hykmans.

But more on all that in the forthcoming timeline posts!

-Mister Ed

Next: An Overview of Gurutama Part 11

An Overview of Gurutama Part 9

The picture of a Hobgoblin from one of the D&D Monster Manuals.
The picture of a Hobgoblin from one of the D&D Monster Manuals.

Previous: An Overview of Gurutama Part 8

I’ll be covering the Hobgoblins of Gurutama next.

The Hobgoblins are the offspring of a dwarven curse cast at the beginning of the dwarven invasion of Najar.

The dwarves asked the Bwarlor people to assist in the invasion, but the Bwarlor humiliated the dwarven diplomats (Beard shaving!).

The dwarves, not to be outdone, cast a terrible curse upon the Bwarlor.

Every firstborn Bwalor human was taken away by a black mist that covered Bwolo Isle.

The curse was worse than that. For centuries after the black mist, every firstborn of the Bwarlor would be have the body of a dwarf instead of a human.

These dwarf children formed a community of second class citizens in Bwarlor culture. They called themselves the Bastards of the Book as the curse that affected them originated from the dwarves magical Book in Hearthland.

The Bastards shared a common hatred, but not for the Bwarlor that outcast them. They hated the dwarves that had cursed them initially.

Eventually a group of Bastards came together with the aim of violence against the dwarven community.

Unfortunately for them the dwarves were safe within the Metal Tier mountain range of Hearthland.

But the dwarves had friends…

The Bastards of the Book cobbled a fleet together and sailed against the elves at Shianosoth.

They attacked, pillaged, and raped the city.

The offspring of the mixed cursed human, dwarf, and elf blood formed Hobgoblin babies.

This was the darkness that afflicted the Halusho Forest that I wrote of earlier.

The Hobgoblins were a savage and violent race, matching their origins, until the Hykmans civilized them.

The Hobgoblins adapted to civilization and organized government quickly, but their violent ways never left them.

A few decades after joining the Hykmans the Hobgoblins revolted to form their own nation.

That’s about it for the Hobgoblins. They live in the northern half of the Halusho Forest and in the Mandible mountains along the northern coast of the Lower Maw. All the cities in that area are Hobgoblin cities.

-Mister Ed

Next: An Overview of Gurutama Part 10