California Election 2016

The Presidential Election for the United States of America is tomorrow so it’s about time I do some sort of post about it.

I usually don’t like talking about politics with people who aren’t my friends. It’s pretty much guaranteed to be divisive, but I suppose I should use my teeny soapbox of the GoCorral website for what it’s worth.

I’ve got two categories I want to go over for the election, who should be President and California’s propositions. I’ll start with the propositions. Continue reading

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

Knights of the Dinner Table

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I read comics a lot when I was a kid, but the only subscription I’ve kept into adulthood is for Knights of the Dinner Table.

Knights of the Dinner Table is abbreviated as KODT. Why does “Of” make it into the abbreviation if “The” doesn’t? Because the authors don’t have copy editors and make a few¬†mistakes every issue.

The mistakes in the magazine have become charming over time, some even seem to me to be done on purpose at this point.

The image above shows the typical art style for the comic, a bunch of talking heads.

The heads are literally just rotated using an image editing software and new expressions put on. The exact sort of thing that I’ve heard people dislike about comics in the newspaper.

So about now the comic seems like its done by unprofessionals, right? It kind of is.

None of the people who are involved in the comic’s creation have any sort of training or experience in the comic industry outside of KODT.

But the comic has been in circulation for over twenty years now. That’s gotta count for something!

KODT’s shining point is the content. While the art is minimal, that’s all that’s needed.

The comic is about a large gaming community in Muncie, Indiana. The Knights of the Dinner Table, shown above, are just one of many gaming groups within that community.

The comic follows the gaming sessions of the community as well as the random events of life.

The most recent issues cover B.A., the DM for the Knights, starting to date someone for the first time in his adult life.

I started reading KODT at issue 50 about the same time I started playing D&D. Over ten years later and they’re up to issue 207 now.

The comic and the game seem like almost the same thing to me at this point.

I look forward to getting my issue every month, even though they are technically two months behind schedule.

I still get one comic a month with the two months behind thing, but the holiday themed issues end up being a little strange. Everyone is wearing costumes in December and celebrating the new year in February.

The company that makes KODT has also put out an amazing roleplaying system called Hackmaster. I’ve bought it and look forward to playing it sometime.

But Hackmaster is something for a different blog post! That’s all for now.

-Mister Ed