Michaeldgriffiths's Blog
One's man Chaos is another person's Entertainment

Mar
18

One of Us by Craig DiLouie is what I tend to call Dark Fantasy—a fantasy novel which takes place during our present era.  This novel centers around a young generation of children which were born with monstrous disfigurements living as little better than slaves within harsh orphanages. There are several points of view in this novel, but they tend to focus on more of the younger characters.

One of Us by Craig DiLouie

 

Genre:  Dark Fantasy

Publisher:  Orbit

Published: 2018

Reviewer Rating: 4.5 Stars

Reviewer:  Michael D. Griffiths

 

 

 

 

This might seem like a simple watered down X-Men plot, but it has far reaching implications. It focuses on the experience of the outsider and well as those who strive to help the oppressed even when they are forced to go against the grain of their own community.

The plot moves from understanding the outcasts, to feeling the hopelessness of their plight. Characters both good and ill step up to make a difference or work harder to keep the maturing mutants down. Things build to a head when one of the nicest of the mutated children is scapegoated into taking the fall for a cowardly pedophile’s crime. The town erupts with violence and hatred toward the children, but will it be anything compared to the teens if they were to erupt right back?

I think DiLouie took on huge undertaking and nailed it. Not too many down sides of doing what you can to fight racism and oppression. We should all be doing what we can and literature is one of the ways we can do this. So hats off to him. Problems, well… it is a little dark, as it has to be. Might be a little too serious for vacation light reading.

This is an interesting inventive way to make a positive difference while also entertaining the reader. This was a quick read for me as all good books are. It is worth checking this one out.

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One of Us by Craig DiLouie i

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One of Us by Craig DiLouie ii

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Mar
14

A few weeks ago, I reviewed six of the easier techniques we can use to save money, strengthen our economy, and help preserve the environment. The third of these techniques which helps minimize our Negative Environmental Impact (NEI) is:

Use Energy Wisely such as high efficiency devices and keeping them unplugged.

Makes sense right? But let’s be careful to be realistic here, because I think some of these concepts are not thought through completely and some people are getting more credit than they are due, while others have a smaller NEI and they aren’t getting the accolades they deserve.

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I’ve often heard the praises of what I called Privileged Purchasers. Here was the definition I tossed out 4/17/17

  • Privileged Purchasers: These people feel they are ahead of the pack because their new custom made home has an energy efficient dishwasher and since they have solar power, the average person could never hope to be as cool to the environment as they are.

As I have pointed out more than once, does having an energy efficient home cancel out the larger NEI a person with a high income produces, because let’s be clear, in general the more income one has the higher their general impact. And before we consider how true this is, let’s also think about this world-wide. An individual living in a low income rural village has a very different life than say a middle class man in the USA, so let’s try to take a global perspective here.

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Mount Gram

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So let’s imagine two people. One is Brian Whitney, who is worth a hundred thousand dollars and just bought a new home with energy savings devices. Good for you Bri, at least you’re trying, but when we consider his life overall, is this lessoning of his NEI even worth mentioning, compared to Ari Bhaat, who lives in an agricultural community near the base of the Himalayas, NEI? Could Ari be kicking Bri up and down the street just by being poor?

Let’s consider each lifestyles pros and cons.

 

Brian Whitney’s Negative Environmental Impact

 

  • Drives an average of 150 miles a week.
  • Heats or cools his home throughout the year
  • Uses electricity, natural gas, and water daily
  • Buys food transported long distances
  • Eats luxury food items with a higher NEI, like meat
  • Buys complex devices and manufactured items
  • Wears more intricate clothes and personal items

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Ari Baat’s Negative Environmental Impact

 

  • Eats local food, but more plants than meat
  • Does not drive, uses bus for long trips on rare occasions
  • Does not use electric heating and cooling
  • Uses some electric power
  • Wears simple clothing
  • Buys manufactured tools

 

Ari would have a household carbon imprint 0f around 200kg. https://bit.ly/2XL6A0w

The average American’s carbon footprint per person in 2014 was 21.5 metric tons CO2 or 21500 kg, so Brian creates 107.5% as much as Ari      https://bit.ly/2xAdeer

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Per-Capita-CO2

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But wait, what about the dishwasher Brian bought?

An energy effect dishwasher saves 40$ a year over washing dishes by hand, and reduces 50% of washing dishes NEI, but since washing dishes is roughly 1% of a home’s energy output, which is 14% of Brian Whitney’s carbon footprint, this is reducing his Carbon Footprint by 15.05kg  (.5 of 14% of 21500kg = 15.05kg) or about 7% of Ari total NEI. But also keep in mind this only lowered Brian from 21500 to 21,484.05 kg. Wow, those energy efficient dishwashers are so not amazing.

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average-american-footprint

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540g CO2e: by hand, using water sparingly and not too hot
770g
CO2e: in a dishwasher at 55°C
990g
CO2e: in a dishwasher at 65°C
8000g
CO2e: by hand, with extravagant use of water

https://bit.ly/2XNEsKi

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Let’s give Brian one more chance. Solar panels. And look, I’m a hundred percent in favor of solar panels. I wish we all had them. I’d love to flip the bird to the electric company and help withdraw our country from dependence on fascist theocracies. Electric cars, running my laptop like an anarchist, let me at it.

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Utah Action

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Still if roughly 14% of our NEI comes from an individual’s  use of electricity, even if we fueled 100% of our home with solar, that would leave 18,490 kg a year for the average USA adult. We saved 3,100 kg or a little over 15 times what Ari produces in a year.

Look I’m not saying don’t try to do everything you can to reduce your NEI and increase your freedom against the Bills. I just want to spin the chair until we are seeing the reality of what we’re facing if we wish to lower our NEI and wish to point out again, in general, the poorer a person is, the better they treat the planet. So the next time you see a homeless guy, suck it up and admit then it comes to being an environmentalist, he’s kicking your ass.

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Bone hat

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You can check out some of my fiction here, where they power everything with nuclear, who knew?

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Feb
28

A few weeks ago, yeah yeah, I got distracted, I spoke on various ways we can limit our Negative Environmental Impact (NEI). I’ve already tackled the first one on the list, (The Number One Thing https://bit.ly/2S6p8IB) where I discuss the serious cons wasting food creates. Today, I’m going to leap into number 2 on the list, non-vehicular transportation.

Whether it is on foot, rolling with the bicycle, or to a lesser degree, public transportation, there are many ways we can leave the car parked and perform tasks both fun and obligatory without turning the key in our automobiles. But before we dive into wildernesspunking this issue, let’s just review all the upsides of non-driving, but still getting to where you need to go.

Bike Back.jpg

 

The Positives of Non-car Travel

 

  • You lower your NEI
  • You save money by not using as much gasoline
  • You stay in better shape with more exercise
  • Reduce wear on your vehicle prolonging its life
  • You reduce traffic congestion
  • No need to find or pay for parking
  • Less driving means less accidents

 

bike.jpg

 

Bonus WildernessPunk Values

 

  • Less laws which you can be accused of violating
  • You can be more relaxed if you’ve had a few drinks
  • You don’t risk giving your money to a fascist dictator or to a company owned by the wealthiest .1%
  • You are more likely to observe nature
  • As the hippies would say, there is always the chance of finding a ‘Ground Score’
  • No one can ask you for a ride home
  • With enough change, parking lots could be converted into more useful spaces

 

These lists could continue, but I think you get the point. This is good for you, the country, and the world. But what should we call this style of improving? I hate the use of Alternative Transportation. Cars are alternative transportation. Walking is our normal mode, although we tend to forget such things. So how about we use:

Smart Travel

 

Bike wet.jpg

 

I would be surprised to find too many people who are against all the positive gains listed above. Although, of course, there will always be those who hate bikers and feel pedestrians just get in the way of smooth flowing traffic. They should keep in mind though, each of these people they see are one less car slowing them down when they are trying to make the light before it turns red.

More realistic objections would be things such as health restrictions, which could keep some people from being able to walk or bike to the store. No, grandma please don’t get on a bike, but it does bring to mind how far we’re removed from the natural, when people can’t live without the help of dead dinosaurs. Also in a strange reverse of fates, we unnatural city dwellers can perform many tasks without driving. For instance, I can do all my shopping, hit a restaurant, drop by the bank, and visit half my friends without getting behind the wheel.

bike lilly

In contrast, those who enjoy and live closer to nature, have the drawback of not being able to do the majority of our modern tasks without a long drive into town. If they can get wifi, many of these errands can now be done over the internet, such as paying bills. However don’t get trapped thinking you’re helping lower your NEI by ordering from Amazon, because that truck had to drive to your house.

Let’s review one man’s savings, er mine. I’m a bike commuter, who has obviously had the miles I ride fluctuate over the years. The most I ever pulled off was 4100 miles in a single year. But let’s lower the bar a few degrees below my crazy. I’ve had several years where I estimate I saved about 800$ a year. I minus the price of new tubes, but also keep in mind less oil changes and car maintenance.

walking

Sure 800$ might not be a lion’s sum, but then again, I didn’t need to sign up for a gym or take blood pressure medications either. But at the end of each month, when I walked down to a local pub with my extra 150$, I didn’t waste, and grabbed a pint and some chicken wings, it didn’t feel too bad.

So WildernessPunk it to the oil man and Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud. Keep yourself out of the hospital and enjoy the extra cash in your pocket. Smart Travel is Punk, and every time you drive, a little of you has sold out. Little is more radical than Doing It Yourself and each time you take a stroll that’s exactly what’s happening.

 

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Never underestimate yourself and be sure to look both ways.

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bone shadow

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Grab some of my ‘Does Dak dream of electric cars’ fiction here

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skinjumpers

Feb
23

The Messiah Game by Tom Flynn is a science fiction novel set in a future where the human race has spread through the solar system. Although there is a lot going on, the novel primarily focuses of the spreading of Christianity and the new form of entertainment called Spectators. The latter are individuals living in more primitive societies and recording their lives—an anthropological reality show.

The Messiah Game by Tom Flynn

 

Genre:  Science Fiction

Publisher: See Sharp Press

Released: 2012

Stars:  3.5 Stars

Reviewer: Michael D. Griffiths

 

One of the Spectators discovered a man playing at the game of being a messiah. He was good at what he did, but knew he was a fake even if the people he tricked did not. Another thread follows a second Spector which allowed one of her coworkers to be slain by a tribe they had each recorded. A third thread follows the progression of religious leaders who are searching for each new planet’s own ‘Jesus.’

Each of these threads, and a few others, increase in tension as the novel progresses. The messiah begins to believe he possesses divine powers. The second becomes involved in an inner tribal war. While the battle over Christianity becomes deadly.

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The ideas here are interesting, if dark. Most of the characters are degrees below evil at best. Action balances intrigue and the author sets up a universe which could house a series, which I think is Flynn’s intention.

Problems with this could include the numerous Points of View for such a short novel. It is being set up as an epic, but one feels they have only read a third of a book before its over. Although in fairness, most of the threads due reach a climax. Also, it was hard to get into the other threads, when they moved so much more slowly than others. I found myself just wishing we were following one interesting tale instead of covering the political arc of this universe.

I enjoyed how the author pointed out the delusion of religion and illustrated how simple it is to fool people or start a faith of your own. This in itself makes this novel useful. Science Fiction fans who like both action and political plots should enjoy this one.

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Flynn-feature

Feb
21

Since this is such a hot issue in the USA, as well as many other countries, I figured I go ahead an offer a quick solution. You might not agree with it, but you can’t argue it wouldn’t work.

So please accept this tongue in both cheeks approach to using facts and logic to solve things in a manner few would accept. But if you don’t, you can’t blame me when you keep getting into debates over the subject later…

My idea is as simple as it is effective.

The USA will only allow Atheists to immigrate to this country.

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Chochise Pools

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Okay, before I start to get some people’s blood up while others are finishing an incredulous chuckle, let’s just look at this logically and consider the abundance of pros and the absence of cons.

 

Results which appeal to the Right

 

  • Will drastically slow immigration

Since only 7% of the world’s population is atheists this would cut out 93% of immigrants, this would be way better than a wall.

 

  • Only 16% of Latin Americans are Atheists

Again, this would all but solve the issue the Republicans are so worked up over. https://bit.ly/2XciCQd

 

  • It would greatly reduce any chance of any religious extremist entering the country.

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atheist-1024x682

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Results which appeal to the Left

 

  • Immigrants will be more Progressive

Open minded, science oriented immigrants will only strengthen the Democratic party and help develop progressive policies which will advance the green agendas, support science programs, and help foster technological developments.

 

  • More Atheists are Democrats

Since Republicans are 18% more likely to believe in Gods and 8% less likely to be Atheist, this policy would be help boost the Democratic Party. https://pewrsr.ch/2T4Spnt

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Results which appeal to the Wildernesspunks

 

  • New Immigrants will be nearly Crime Free

Currently .07% of the US prison population identifies themselves as atheist. So this is roughly 7 in 10,000. So every immigrant who enters the country increases the overall safety of the USA. https://bit.ly/2RUidCX

 

  • Facts Help

When someone believes in facts and knows this is the only life we get, they are more inclined to care about our planet and think about ways to preserve it, instead of thinking it is just a magical tool given to us to use until we live a cozy eternity in a sweet special happy place.

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religion-statista

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So why am I going here?

 

Let’s start backwards.

  • Trump is hurting the USA, some other countries, and the earth itself.
  • Trump is not the problem, but a symptom of the problem.
  • What is the problem?
  • Roughly 1 in 3 Voting USA citizens still support his evil man and he wouldn’t have been elected and be our problem without their support.
  • The majority of his supporters have been raised to believe bronze aged myths are true and should control our ethics and often laws and political policies.
  • People who partake in Magical Thinking and swallow impossible lies and easy answers, will be much more likely to swallow nearly impossible lies and easier answers.

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Tucson trail

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Conclusion:

Religions sets people up to be easily tricked and controlled and are being used by evil men to further their own aims, which include, much more often than not, putting their own acquisition of wealth and power over the needs of humanity and the health of our planet.

So let’s try to move away from misguided advocates of the few myths we haven’t put behind us. Even the most pious follower of Christianity, Islam, Buddhism…etc is 99% atheist since there are far many more deities they think are false (Zeus, Odin, Hermes, Inanna etc) So they just need to add one more to the list to catch up to the heroes working to save this planet.

The USA could lead the world in so many powerful and wonderful ways. Yet, instead, we are being dragged down by people seeking to move backwards rather than forward. Truth is, we can’t go backwards. The world is different. There are more people than ever before and we are more industrialized than ever before. In most places we are more interrogated than ever before. These things won’t change barring, complete collapse or genocide, which if we were to stay on this course, could be looming in our future.

Or we can shed the heavy chaffing belt of ancient myths written for the technology and morality of another time and look toward the type of innovations in science and technology which will allow our economy, race, and earth to thrive and… with a little luck survive.

Thanks for listening.

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Bone with box i

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You can grab some much less opinionated fiction here

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little-camp

Feb
03

I’m hoping most of the folks reading this also read my last WP post, The Number One Thing, where I discussed how the easiest thing we can do in this country to combat Climate Change is insuring we minimize food waste which causes huge amounts of methane to enter our atmosphere. This limits our personal contribution to climate change while helping our country, and also our personal finances along the way.

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Josh

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But how do you top a concept which can be embraced by everyone cross culturally which also has a huge positive affect on everything from environmental health to blue collar workers?

The answer would be to find something even better.

But first I wanted to toss out a Mission Statement of sorts for WildernessPunk, you know because we’re so professional and all:

WildernessPunk is the concept of moving past accepted norms in the pursuit of engineering a life which minimizes our environmental impact on our planet.

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Valley of the Goda

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A little more WP Housekeeping. For the Hell’s of lit, I went ahead and started a WildernessPunk Blog and FB page. I’ll start posting an old post on both of these every day. I’ll still post new WP posts here on my main page, but in the future there will probably be a benefit having them all in the same place.

So back to this find something better concept.

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Chocise

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There are many different lists and suggestions to be found on the internet and within the reports written by environmental scientists. However, many of these lists involve legislation and making huge sweeping changes in our technology or culture. But what about things which rely on the individual? What could you do tomorrow to help without needing to call your congressperson, collecting signatures, or investing a few thousand dollars?

Let’s compile a list of the top contenders. I know we talked about minimizing our food wastage, so I’ll just place this at the top of the list.

 

Ways an Individual can Lower their Negative Environmental Impact (NEI)

 

  • Minimizing Food Waste
  • Commuting by Bicycle, Walking, Buses
  • Use Energy Wisely such as high efficiency devices and keeping them unplugged
  • Consume less
  • Eating for a Climate Stable Planet
  • Recycle, Reduce, Reuse
  • And Eating Bugs

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Bike wet rain

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So after a review of the current literature this is the list of top things we can each do on our own which were mentioned in the most of the various articles. Of course there are dozens of things we could do as a party or a country or a world, but most experts agree individuals should be doing as much of the above list as possible.

I might blow off the eating bugs idea. I mean it’s just so simple why outline it, unless you want to discuss how to build ant farms for fun and dinner. However, since I already started with the first one, I might take a WildernessPunk crack at the others. Perhaps we all might learn something.

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Old Faithful

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You can grab some of my fiction here, check it out.

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bone empty lecture

Jan
25

After my last adventure, I feel refreshed and ready to change the direction of WildernessPunk down a different one of its Arrows. This time diving into the issue of Climate Change. You know, the whole thing about keeping our planet alive.

Often, in this stage in human existence, we’re informed of and confronted with the ills which infect our world. Usually it becomes overwhelming and we feel powerless to have any serious impact on the situation. Yet, if it is an issue, such as Climate Change, which is caused by each one of us, couldn’t each one of us to do something to help.

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a shot

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It makes sense. If I contribute to a certain percent of an issue, let’s say X percent. Then my behavior should then affect X of this issue. If we all change our X percent, then we have changed the whole situation for the better.

Sure, I understand each of our contributions to Climate Change in theory runs about .000000013%, however if you multiply this number by digits which end in a lot of zeroes this can change quickly.

So, as mentioned in the title, what is the Number One Thing we can each do to reduce our contribution to global warming? The answer changes from country to country. In less industrialized countries the answer is to educate the population on reproductive options. I’m also going to mention another huge factor which would help underdeveloped nations, since it will relate to the #1Thing in the more industrialized countries.

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global-warming-emissions-by-sector

 

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The other big issue in underdeveloped countries is food waste. But unlike how food gets wasted in countries like the USA, in less developed countries a huge percentage of food goes bad before it can reach the consumer. So better preservation, along with transportation and reproductive education, are key components to lowering how underdeveloped countries contribute to Climate Change.

But things are different in the more industrialized countries such as the USA. Here, more food is wasted after purchase and is sent to rot in the landfills. This rotting food is one of the primary causes of methane which our NASA lists as the third leading greenhouse emissions on the planet. https://climate.nasa.gov/causes/ Whether it rots on the way to the store or after you toss it, the results are the same. Our titanic production and wasting of food are one of the leading causes of Climate Change.

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Yes, there are many ways we could all help lessen our Carbon Footprint. We could become vegan, ride our bikes to work, and use our cooling systems less, but each of these things have something in common. They would all involve a large change in behavior and the discomfort brought about by sacrifice.

This is why getting stricter with what food we allow to go to waste is the Number One Thing we can all do in this country to combat Climate Change. The primary reason I believe this is not only how easy it would be, but also all the positive benefits it would have for all of us. Let’s review some of these below.

The Positive Benefits of Limiting Food Waste:

 

  • Wasting less food saves money
  • Buying less, each visit, allows for alternative methods of transportation such as walking and biking
  • Using less food leaves more for other humans and animals
  • Wasting less food produces less methane emissions
  • Creates less materials to throw into landfills
  • Uses less resources to transport food
  • Requires less water to irrigate crops
  • Wasting food costs, the USA 165 Billion a year
  • The USA currently wastes 40% of the food produced

 

Yes, look at those last two. If the USA wastes 165 Billion on food each year https://cnn.it/1vuse8P and the USA has 119 million households https://binged.it/2sMA6EI that means each household wastes roughly 1386.55$ dollars a year or 115.54$ a month.

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Wrap you head around this for a minute. 115.54$ is enough food for a lot of families to live off for a whole week and it’s thrown away. Let’s look at this from a different angle. If 40% of the food is wasted, this means 40% of the water used to irrigate it is wasted. 40% of the gas used to ship it to us is wasted. 40% of the time used to grow, harvest, transport, stock, and sell is wasted. This is a colossal amount of resources our country is throwing on the landfill which is just helping destroy our planet faster.

I’m not asking cowboys to become vegan here. I’m just asking people to help make our country stronger while getting a little more exercise and saving yourself hundreds of dollars. If you can’t motivate to do it for your environment or your country, then just do it for yourselves. See you at the bike rack in front of Safeway.

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wildernesspunk5.5

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You can grab some of my fiction here, check it out.

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Bone hat

Jan
25

umbertouched by livia blackbrune

 

Umbertouched by Livia Blackbrune

Genre:  Fantasy

Publisher:  Hyperion

Published: 2018

Reviewer Rating:  5 Stars

Reviewer:  Michael D. Griffiths

 

Umbertouched by Livia Blackbrune is a fantasy novel set in the Rosemarked series. This is the third book in the series. Normally I wouldn’t have started with the third book in a series, but luckily for this author, (Like she really needs my help) I did not realize this was the case and was drawn into the tale and enjoyed it so completely, I did not care I was coming in on the end of the story. I will tell you another thing, if you have read Blackbrune’s earlier novels and liked them, you will be in for a huge treat with this novel and should just order it immediately.

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ravens

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The story focuses on the continuing journey Of Zivah a young female healer and her companion, a warrior named Dineas. They have a long and complicated back story and Dineas is torn after being forced to live two lives, which ended up with him having friends and allies on both sides of the building war. Zivah is slowly dying from the plague, but this may not hurt as much as her broken heart for she loved the man Dineas no longer is.

The novel balanced between these two trying to save their tribes from the Emperor’s army and discovering if they can find their way back to the feelings they once shared for each other within a different life. This is a fantasy novel but remains on the low fantasy side of the bell curve. Besides a plague, which tends to happen, the only fantastic thing these characters can do is communicate enough with their crows for their birds to perform tasks and find people.

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umberish

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This is the first Five Star review I have given in over a year. If you enjoy fantasy, I think you will love this series. Not much to complain about here other then they could have been clearer about where this book rested within the series. Yet, if they had, I would not have read it and since I enjoyed it so much, I am pleased this stayed hidden from me.

Zivah and Dineas are great characters. Each is thoughtful, complex, and deep. They are also brave heroes who solve problems by doing things their own way. Chaotic Good in action one might say. I loved how the plot evolved as did these two. Emotions ran high and the author pulls on the heart of the reader. I felt very involved with each of them and at the risk of sounding cliché, I couldn’t put this one down.

After reading mostly lackluster books for over a year, I was so pleased to read such a strong novel. If you have read the other Rosemarked novels, order this today. This story was a real pleasure and I enjoyed it from cover to cover.

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umber

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Jan
17

the far bank of the rubicon by erik wecks

Genre:  Science Fiction

Publisher:  Image Comics

Published: 2014

Reviewer Rating:  3 Stars

Reviewer:  Michael D. Griffiths

 

 

 

The Far Bank of the Rubicon by Erik Wecks is a science fiction novel set in the deep reaches of space. In the far-flung future the human race lives across numerous stars. There are however, two factions, the Unity and the Alliance The former is a malign force lead by corporations, while the Alliance are freer, but run by a royal family.

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The plot follows a few points of view including, Jonas, the younger prince of the Alliance. When the Unity attacks, he finds himself thrust into the position of fighting for maintaining a scrap of his personal life while becoming a figurehead for the resistance. Right from the start, the Unity is winning the war and creating chaos and damage all across the planets Jonas’ father rules.

Quickly, Jonas and his allies find themselves fighting a losing battle they may not have a chance of winning. Spies, traitors, and assassins make each step harder. Also, the enemy has new technological advances which give them advantages and interfere with the Alliance’s AI. Things look bleak and the best they can hope for is more effective damage control.

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The science fiction in this novel is innovative and interesting, yet the characters failed to catch me as much as in other novels. The action is there, later in the novel, but I didn’t feel a burning drive to care for the characters as much as I could have. The author made strange choices like changing to the POV of a young girl, for the first time, while she loses her virginity. I thought this was an odd decision.

Strong points are again the level of tech which influences the battles, which seems realistic. In the future, battles will probably revolve around each side’s level of technology. I also liked the different types of weapons used in space. The author has a good grip on what space battles could really be like.

This novel is heavy on the science fiction, but a little lighter on the people involved in the war. If you like exploring the future of space battles I would pick this up.

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00000

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Learn More Here

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Jan
16

I should have known, but all it took was a few days for Greg to surpass my earlier winnings with his necklace sales, well trades, which are topping 250$ and counting. Yet, competition gives way to smooth sailing as we equip ourselves in style for the journey back, not only to, but also through 1000 miles of desert.

Still, the trip isn’t over. I have sad goodbyes to make. Although if this cat doesn’t stop walking on my computer, some of them might become a bit easier.

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cats

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And yes, goodbyes are sad and bad, but sometimes you have to pull the band-aid trigger and just move everyone to the next chapter of their life. For some a new chapter, for my daughter, I think it will be the beginning of the next novel.

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california lake

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Hills of mist lay drenched in fog as we race south and away from the lands of wine and weed. Soon, even in the most populated state, we leave the people and homes behind. A small outpost, like a boat floating over a sea of grass, allows me to discuss Lovecraft with an interested father as we get one more day of rest before heading into Mojave National Preserve.

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california mists

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The upcoming downlow:

  • I have never been to the MNP
  • With the government shut down things will either be locked or free?
  • Do we have enough gear for a January camp?
  • Will Greg just sleep in the car?

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cali

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Seventeen hours later and I have the answers to all those questions.

After driving into the Mojave, we manage to find a Dollar General and stock up, such as we can. Figuring topping off the gas can’t hurt, I head into the K, because hell, an extra sixer can’t hurt either. A heated conversation is going on as I approach the counter.

Hipster Costumer: “Yeah man, I love M and Ms.”

Neck Tattoo Clerk: “Hell yeah, I eat a bag every day. But I just eat three at a time, so I can savor them, but I eat a whole bag every day!”

Hipster Costumer: “I’m going to go home and nap, but when I wake up, I eating this whole bag!”

Neck Tattoo Clerk: “I fucking LOVE M and Ms!”

At this point they look over to me to make sure no innocents witnessed the man on the job drop the F bomb over his love of candy. They see me with just a sixer of beer at 2PM.

Hipster Costumer: “Holy shit dude, you’re tall. I thought I was tall, but you are like a giant.”

Neck Tattoo Clerk: “And look, he’s got beer. This guy is ready to party!”

Hipster Costumer: “Yeah, he must need to drink a whole six-pack to equal us drinking one…”

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Eventually I get, beer, gas, and laughs and then rip back onto I-40. The mists we’ve traveled through change to rain. Greg and I reach an unspoken understanding we will be in a wet camp, with little available in the way of wood. Any wood which can be found will also be drenched, so two people with limited gear, could be hard pressed while exploring the largest desert in the USA.

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cali desert

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Two hours later, we take the exit into the Devil’s Playground. Worries over the Government Shutdown turn out to be unneeded for the lands swept before us barren and unpopulated. The fog covered mountains looming over the desert confirm this was a strong choice no matter what the outcome. However, despite its beauty, the lands prove sparse and there will be little obvious resources available to help us through the January night.

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Heading north, we moved deeper into this no-man’s-land or NML. Then I spotted a sixty-foot com tower. “I got an idea. The dirt roads leading to these towers are always better maintained.” And when you have a Honda Accord these things become so much more important. My guess proved right, and we reached the tower without incident. Upon arriving, we discovered two things.

  1. A single fire place sized log.
  2. The road continued.

After grabbing the log, we continued as well and struck gold. A mile past the tower was a giant tumble of boulders with a fire pit. We stopped and as the clouds lowered over the mountains, we got the fire lit before the rains grew stronger, which they soon did. The place proved to be amazing. The fire remained traditional and small. We kept it just big enough to cook on and take away the shivers of the soaked jackets.

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cali fire

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Intense events should have a meaningful climax and for me, camping out in the mist shrouded desert in a desolated and unexplored piece of this country proved an excellent way to end my 2700 miles power trip to drop my eldest, Katrina, off at her new home town.

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cali cliffs

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Trips should leave you refreshed and yet anxious to get back to your lives and the projects and goals which infuse your existence. A great trip will spark new ideas and solutions, along with jumpstarted energy to complete your dreams.

Perhaps we need the pause to be able to focus those dreams. Only by being temporarily removed from your steady life and locale can you realize how you wish to improve it and why you should do so. Travel inspires and reminds one how small our corner of the universe is. We are only one story within the billions, but this makes it no less important for us.

I also think stripping down our possessions helps with this. In the USA many seem to feel we are what we own. But when you are standing in the rain with the only jacket you have, eating the last of the food you possess, it clears you of the excess. Possessions are just what we surround ourselves with, be they shirts or selves, we encase our bodies in what we own, but in the wilds, we have little of this. Perhaps therefore it is one of the finest ways to figure out who you really are?

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You can grab some of my fiction here. Heroes who strive on a different Path

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Bone hat