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My Adventures at the Calgary Comic Expo

June 20, 2011 Leave a comment

Despite being a lifetime nerd, I have never been to a sci-fi or comic book convention!

I know, I know. The lack of nerd cred on my part is somewhat disheartening.

But don’t worry, because my Comic expo virginity has now been taken by the Calgary Comic Expo.

I had a really great time. I got to meet some great people, saw some live StarCraft action, and even got a chance to hear William Shatner speak and take some questions from the audience.

What blew me away most though were the costumes. The amount of work that must go into some of them was astounding. Here are a few samples:

Wolverine and...someone I recognize but can't remember the name.

The contact lenses show a nice level of dedication to the costume.

X-Men. And woman. X-People I suppose.

Bob from ReBoot. I was impressed at the number of ReBoot fans.

Classic

Dude behind him is checking out his ass, I think.

The hands look a little big to me.

Thundercats! Awesome!

Elektra, some dude, and Poison Ivy.

The one on the right is a different shade of green. Maybe she was sick?

Creepy. Creepy/Awesome.

William Shatner also gave a talk to a crowd of about 4000. He was made an honorary Calgarian by the Mayor of Calgary, and took some audience questions.

One such question went like this:

Girl: This question is from my Dad. What was it like being on ‘Star Trek’?

Shatner: Tell your dad that I was cleaning green paint off myself every night!

Crowd: *Applause*

He was actually a very funny guy and very entertaining.

I also found out that DC comics is rebooting all of its stories, so maybe I can start reading comic books and actually know whats going on!

All in all, a great time and lots of great people. I’ll be back again next year!

Does TV Watching Make You Sick? Not Exactly…

June 14, 2011 Leave a comment
File:Televison Hungarian ORION 1957.jpg

Beware! It might kill you! Photo Credit: Istvan Takacs

I’m a little annoyed with some headlines hitting a few news websites today:

TV Watching Raises Risk of Health problems, dying young

Excess TV time linked to early death

TV time tied to death, diabetes risk

The stories are talking about a study getting published this week in the Journal of the American Medical Association

The study is a meta-analysis of 8 studies over the past 40 years which look at the correlation between watching television and risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

The study found, unsurprisingly, that increased television watching was correlated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

The pooled relative risks per 2 hours of TV viewing per day were 1.20 (95% CI, 1.14-1.27) for type 2 diabetes, 1.15 (95% CI, 1.06-1.23) for fatal or nonfatal cardiovascular disease, and 1.13 (95% CI, 1.07-1.18) for all-cause mortality.

In layman’s terms, this means that for each 2 hours of television watched per day, risk of type 2 diabetes increased by about 20%, risk of developing fatal or non-fatal heart disease increased by about 15%, and risk of dying of any cause increased by about 13%.

So does watching TV make you sick? Not exactly.

I’m not doubting the results of the study, though they should be taken with the usual grain of salt that should be taken with all epidemiological studies.

They are observational studies, not controlled studies in a lab. There are many variables which can influence the results.

That being said, the results of the study are not surprising and I have every confidence that there is truth in there.

But the media takes these types of studies, gives them a sensationalized headline and doesn’t put them in the proper context.

Watching TV does not make you sick; being lazy makes you sick. What this study is really showing is that watching TV correlates to a lazy lifestyle.

There’s nothing wrong with kicking back and watching some Star Trek reruns or even *groan* Dancing with the Stars. Just make sure you go out for a jog now and then. Or play some basketball. Or just do anything that isn’t sitting around and being lazy!

I’m sure snacking is a big factor in the results of this study as well. No doubt increased time in front of the TV leads to eating more unhealthy foods.

But if you sit in front of the tube and eat baby carrots or oatmeal, then you are probably not at a huge risk of developing heart disease or diabetes.

So if you watch a lot of TV, you’re not necessarily going to die young because TV doesn’t make you sick.

But if you eat a lot of junk food and don’t exercise, then you might die young. But then again, THAT’S not exactly news, is it?

5 Things I’ve Learned From One Year of Blogging

May 30, 2011 3 comments

Happy Anniversary! A Quantum of Knowledge went online one year ago today!

It seems like the older you get, the shorter the years get. Because it certainly doesn’t seem like a year since I started blogging.

But it has been. 312 posts. 63,000 hits. Not to shabby :)

From what I’ve read, the majority of blogs die out in the first few months after creation. So how do you keep it going?

There are a few tidbits I’ve picked up over the past year that have not only kept me blogging, but kept me loving blogging.

1. Write about what YOU find interesting.

Too often I find myself trolling the news trying to find stories that I think others might be interested in. But this inevitably causes problems.

First, if I don’t find the subject interesting, I’m not going to do a good job writing about it.

Second, you never know what people will find interesting. If you try to pick topics based on what you think people will like, you are just playing a guessing game.

Stick with what you know. Because if you write about things you like and you find fascinating, you will write great posts that people will want to read and share with their friends.

2. Post OFTEN!

It doesn’t have to be a long post. If you are busy, treat your blog like a Twitter feed. Or just post a video you thought was funny. Just post SOMETHING!

Regular posts not only keep your readers coming back, but they keep you in the habit. Just like an exercise routine, you need to keep it up regularly in order to make it a habit.

After you keep a regular schedule for a few weeks, it will be a cinch to continue posting all the time!

3. Talk about yourself

Even if you write your blog anonymously, you should still talk about yourself.

What are your personal feelings on an issue? Have you been happy or sad lately? Did you just go on vacation? If so, where to?

In my case, even though I blog about science, I’ve found that some of my most popular posts were actually about me and not science news.

Whether it be where I spent my weekend, or my Top 10 Sci-Fi Movies, people seem to like hearing about my life. And I’m happy to oblige them.

Not only that, but I’ve found that personal anecdotes do wonders when trying to explain a complicated subject. Inserting a funny personal story into a technical post makes it much more readable.

4. Don’t be afraid to take a break now and then

If you haven’t blogged in a while, it can feel like a weight on your shoulders. You start to think,

“I haven’t posted in a while. I really should…but Dancing with the Stars is on…”

And the more days you miss, you more you feel like you should blog. But when you start feeling like you should, you really don’t want to.

So my advice? It’s ok to miss a few days of blogging. It’s even ok to miss a week or two. In fact, you should probably put the blog aside on purpose every now and then so you don’t get burned out!

And if you’ve intentionally taken a break from blogging, you will soon find that you miss it. You will want to blog again.

5. Do it because you love it

“Physics is like sex: sure, it may give some practical results, but that’s not why we do it.”
— Richard P. Feynman

The same goes for blogging. In my case, spreading the word about good science or disparaging pseudoscience may be in the best interest of the public; but that’s not why I do it.

I do it because I love writing. I love writing about other things that I love. Science, video games and other geekery, it’s all good.

And if you enjoy the fact that you are blogging, it will show through in your posts. People will be drawn to come back and keep reading your stuff.

So that’s it. That’s what I’ve learned. I hope you all have enjoyed the blog so far, and I hope you continue to enjoy it!

The Maquis Killed Bin Laden!

May 13, 2011 2 comments

A German news station was attempting to put up the logo of Navy SEAL Team 6, the team which actually did kill Bin Laden.

Unfortunately, there was a little mix-up, and instead the news station showed the fan-made logo for the Maquis, an anti-Cardassian terrorist group from the Star Trek universe.

Note the skull on this emblem is not human, it is Klingon and is surrounded by Bat’Leths. 

Whether or not Ensign Ro Laren was involved in the attack is currently unknown.

‘Star Wars’ Blu-Ray Release Date Announced. Also, May the 4th be With You!

May 4, 2011 Leave a comment

Yup, it is Star Wars Day. The one day a year when all Star Wars fans prove how truly nerdy they are.

Be sure to say ‘May the Fourth be with you’ to a non-nerd today and be amused at the pitying head shake you will no doubt receive.

I have already gotten several.

And oh yes, Fox has chosen this most holy of holy days to announce that the Star Wars Saga will be released on Blu-Ray in September 2011.

What does this mean for Star Wars fans? It means we will all soon own the original Star Wars trilogy in 3 different video formats. Go us!

My Top 10 Sci-Fi/Fantasy Novels: #1 – The Martian Chronicles

April 30, 2011 Leave a comment

#1 – The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury (1950)


Back in university, I would take the Greyhound bus to get home for the odd weekend. I took the bus a lot. It was about a 5 hour trip, but it gave me time to actually read books that I enjoy, instead of just physics textbooks. (Not that I don’t love physics :)

Late one Friday night, I boarded the bus and opened up a musty old paperback I had picked up from the used book store. It was called The Martian Chronicles.

I read the entire thing in one sitting.

I had never done that with a book before! Cover to cover, non-stop, I read that book. It kept me enthralled that entire ride home.

The book is a collection of short stories, loosely woven together, detailing the human colonization of Mars. It follows the first humans to land on Mars, their encounter with the indigenous species, and from there it just keeps getting better.

The style of the novel being a collection of short stories means the book never gets stale. There is always a new character or a new problem. I read it about once a year, and still usually read the entire thing in single sitting. 

So that’s it! My Top 10 Science Fiction/Fantasy novels. The Martian Chronicles takes the top spot because it continues to be entertaining after so many reads. 

What did you guys think of the list? Was I way off base? What did I miss? I’d love to hear your opinions!

Happy Reading!

“We Earth Men have a talent for ruining big, beautiful things. The only reason we didn’t set up hot-dog stands in the midst of the Egyptian temple of Karnak is because it was out of the way and served no large commercial purpose.”

– Ray Bradbury, The Martian Chronicles


Previous Entries

#10 – Watership Down

#9 – The Harry Potter Series

#8 – The Wheel of Time Series

#7 – The Stars My Destination

#6 – To Say Nothing of the Dog

#5 – Doomsday Book

#4 – Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal

#3 – The Farseer Trilogy

#2 – Flowers for Algernon

My Top 10 Sci-Fi/Fantasy Novels: #2 – Flowers For Algernon

April 29, 2011 1 comment

#2 – Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes (1966)


This is the only book I’ve ever read that has actually made me cry.

Yup, this 200 pound dude has actually starting shedding tears while sitting and reading a book. This  book.

Algernon is a laboratory mouse which has undergone a procedure to increase its intelligence. When the procedure works, the scientists decide to try the procedure on a mentally challenged person named Charlie.

The book is written in the first-person from Charlie’s perspective. Charlie was asked to write progress reports before and after the experiment, and this creates a very unique reading experience.

The first few reports are before the procedure. Charlie has poor grammar, spelling mistakes and finds it difficult to write very much. But you gain a sense of connection with Charlie, especially when he discusses how he is treated by his family and co-workers.

As the procedure begins to take effect, Charlie’s writing becomes more lucid and he actually starts to do his own scientific research. He falls in love. Basically, he begins to live a normal life.

Then, Algernon begins to deteriorate, and Charlie wonders if the same will happen to him.

Despite being published 45 years ago, the themes of ethical scientific research and treatment of the disabled are still very much relevant.

It’s an incredible book that shared the Nebula Award for Best Novel in 1966.

“all my life I wantid to be smart and not dumb and my mom always tolld me to try and lern just like Miss Kinnian tells me but its very hard to be smart and even when I lern something in Miss Kinnians class at the school I ferget alot.”

– Daniel Keyes, Flowers for Algernon

All Entries

#10 – Watership Down

#9 – The Harry Potter Series

#8 – The Wheel of Time Series

#7 – The Stars My Destination

#6 – To Say Nothing of the Dog

#5 – Doomsday Book

#4 – Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal

#3 – The Farseer Trilogy

#2 – Flowers for Algernon

#1 – The Martian Chronicles