I recently got turned back onto Archie comics when I decided to dive into Jughead, which is currently being written by Ryan North (of Dinosaur Comics). I’ve only read the first two issues (this part of the run currently by Chip Zdarsky) but it’s fantastic. Very reminiscent of the classic Archie comics I remember reading.
So I think I’m going to start picking up the Archie digest comics every now and then. My brothers and I used to read them ALL the time when we were kids. In fact, I’ve been meaning to pick up our old collection again next time I’m at my parents house.
The greatest thing about these comics is that they’re easy to read through, and are funny no matter how old you are. And I don’t think the humour has changed in the over 75 years the comic has been around. I love that each writer keeps the same overall style while brining their own flair to the series.
I just found a book that must be from 2008 or so. It’s things like this panel that crack me up every time.
I’ll do a full review post of the Jughead run once I finish it. But spoiler alert – it’s fantastic and you should read it.
Here’s a description of the Connectome, from Wikipedia:
A connectome is a comprehensive map of neural connections in the brain, and may be thought of as its “wiring diagram”. More broadly, a connectome would include the mapping of all neural connections within an organism’s nervous system.
The study of the connectome was described in the podcast as akin to mapping the human genome. Basically, understanding this aspect of the human brain would be HUGE in terms of understanding how we work, and also in adapting technology to fit our needs. I won’t go into all of the specifics and ruin it for you, but some of the ideas broached in the episode with Gendel and Hoffman talk about some really cool, and also slightly terrifying, things that could theoretically be done with an understanding of the connectome.
If you’re not into Star Trek, just ignore some of the trappings of the episode and focus on the interview. It’s really good, and is a good way to kill an hour while you’re at work or commuting.
I was never a huge comic book reader when I was younger. In fact, minus a few issues that have fallen apart or I’ve given away, I still have all of the books I’ve ever owned since my days as a youth. Spoiler alert: that’s not very many comics. The point here is that I didn’t have a large collection, and definitely wasn’t using my allowance to buy a new comic book every week or month.
I remember liking the idea of super heroes – Spider-Man specifically – but I don’t know how I got into that kind of thing, or how I ever first realized I “knew” Peter Parker’s origin story. I guess it’s just one of those things that gets ingrained into popular culture that we’re aware of all the time.
I added to my collection when I was in high school, a little bit, when I found some cool Star Wars comics that I enjoyed. Still not on the ground floor of when Star Wars came back into pop culture either – I was still more into the novels than the comic books.
But recently after discovering podcasts like Make Dad Read Comics, I’ve been getting more into comic books. Some of them are pure indulgence (such as Civil War) but I’ve been largely more judicial in choosing comic books to read. I’m not extremely interested in the super-hero genre, but tend to gravitate more toward the “literary” comic book. More independent stuff. I’m not counting Vader in that category, mind you.
But I also used to read web comics all of the time. This is one area I’ve struggled to get back into, and I don’t know why. Web comics are basically like news paper comics, but there are some really good ones out there that deserve attention. Unfortunately I’m having to discover that all over again. Dinosaur Comics is perennially my favourite, but I can’t say I can name others right now.
I think my personal renaissance stems from there being more choice these days. The quality is also higher than what I remember as a youth – even 15 years ago, the quality was not as good as it is today. I think it’s amazing what some people are able to come up with, and I’m always in awe of what people are able to draw.
Got any good comic recommendations? Web or otherwise?
I’ve heard a lot of good things about the Vader comic book series, and it was recently recommended to me by Patrick of Make Dad Read Comics to read it – I had a $50 gift card burning a hole in my pocket so I finally picked up the first 12 issues, collected in Vader Omnibus – Volume 1.
If you haven’t come across this comic book before, the general idea behind it is that it follows Vader’s antics immediately after the destruction of the first Death Star. It joins the long standing tradition of comics and novels filling in the space in between films, which I can always get behind.
I finally finished the book over the weekend, and I can say that I really enjoyed it. One of the interesting things that it does is knock Vader down several notches. He’s somewhere in between his status in A New Hope and Empire Strikes Back; he’s still taking orders from other Imperial officers (Tagge, this time), but isn’t quite as fearsome as he appears in ESB.
What’s interesting is that the Emperor is really displeased with Vader in this comic series. The destruction of the Death Star at the end of A New Hope is a big failure for the Empire, and for Vader in particular. At this stage in the comics, Vader must really prove himself to the Emperor again, while being placed under the supervision of an Imperial officer. What results is Vader taking it upon himself to gather his own covert forces to track down Luke Skywalker.
There are several cool flashback moments in the comic that re-contextualize Vader a little bit. It made me realize that he was probably thinking of his past at a few different points in the movies, even though the prequel trilogy came much later. But the real highlight of these first 12 books are Captain Aphra and her droid factory (I’m hit or miss on Triple-0 and BT but more on the hit side than miss). I just found out today that she’s going to have her own comic book series – and I think I want to check it out.
I would gush more, but I need to give this another read through. Especially since I also just learned that the second volume is coming out Feb 28th, so I have another book to pick up soon. Suffice it to say that the Vader series is well-written, well-drawn, and is fun to read through. I definitely recommend it!
This is going to be largely another podcast recommendation, but if I’m ever asked what celebrity I’d most like to meet, it’d be Robert Picardo and Ethan Phillips, together in the same room. Those two are downright funny, and also (mostly) down to earth.
Apparently they know each other quite well since starring together on Star Trek: Voyager, and have crossed paths several times. I learned today that both Picardo and Phillips were cast in Cowen Brothers movies – and I specifically want to seek out Inside LLewyn Davis now.
I would definitely want to meet both of them, but if I had to choose, probably Robert Picardo. Anyway, if you want to hear some proof of their genius together (and apart), have a listen to some episodes from Engage: The Official Star Trek Podcast. I’ve listed them in order of newest to oldest. Don’t worry, inside jokes are kept to a minimum.
My brain is bereft of topics to write about today, so I thought I would keep it simple and just ask one question: what brought you to my blog today (or on previous days)? Was there a specific topic that you saw that caught your eye? Do you enjoy my writing? Inquiring minds (well, just one) want to know!
I was recently introduced to MyFitnessPal’s Calorie Intake Report as a means for tracking progress with my weight goals. I already subscribe to the notion of CICO – Calories In, Calories Out – but have had middling success implementing it in day-to-day life. I understand how it works and everything, but my weight is fluctuating up and down constantly (which is expected, since I’ve been less than disciplined with my eating habits since Christmas/New Year’s).
Looking at my weight over a 90 day period, I’ve mostly made progress that I’m happy with. It’s the up and down business of the last month and a half that I could do better with. For a solid two months from November to December, I was hitting all of my goals every week. Since then, I’ve not had the best results.
So I looked up my own Calories Consumed report. Immediately, I can see why I was set up to fail by my own habits.
The red line isn’t the most accurate – as my goal hasn’t been the same over 90 days; it’s actually gone down quite a bit, so some of the “high” days are probably closer to their target than they appear.
Still, I can clearly see where I faltered. Yes, there are some days there that are showing way under my calorie goal, but I’ll be the first to admit that there are many days where I under-reported my calories. A common theme for those days – and I know this is true – I often overate or was too lazy to figure out how many calories I ate. I have a streak of 376 days – most are legitimate log entries, but I probably shouldn’t have such a long streak going.
In fact, I was going to let that streak die today. I was sitting eating my lunch, leftover from dinner out last night, and hadn’t yet entered anything for breakfast, or my daily weight check-in. I was mentally prepared to take a “skip” day, and let the streak die. Take the weekend off. I know MFP would probably send me a notification, gently reminding me that if I don’t login before midnight, my streak will end!
I was okay with that. Ready to start a new streak, or at the very least get into a new rhythm.
But then I read that reddit thread above in /r/loseit (which is a fantastic resource, by the way!). Consciously I know that my weight fluctuates constantly, and I’m not hung up on the day-to-day number – I just keep it because I’m tracking my numbers independently of MFP, so I don’t need to pay to extract my own data. But looking at my progress this way aligns more with what I’m trying to accomplish with my weight loss efforts.
I’m trying to keep to a weekly calorie goal; this is easy in theory, but MyFitnessPal forces you to track daily. I think keeping tabs on the calorie intake report (which I can pull for 7 days), and adding a column to my chart to include how many calories I’ve had vs my goal, will help me better manage my CICO efforts.
I’m going to wait until Monday to put this practice in full force, because I want to have 7 days’ worth of uninterrupted data to match with my tracking dates. But I’m going to modify my weight loss chart as of February 27th – as I’ve already written it out until the 26th. I don’t like scrapping perfectly usable tables.
Working toward a healthier life is a complete lifestyle change, and it’s hard. It’s well worth examining what’s working and what’s not working, and constantly changing for the better. For me, what works best is to analyze things as soon as I start to hit a plateau or steadily climb the opposite direction on the scale without fluctuating up and down.
I don’t think I will ever stop monitoring what I’m doing. I hope one day I will be a little more relaxed about it, but I know that not being careful at all was what piled on the weight in the first place. It’s all a matter of finding the right balance, in the end.
I’m always trying to think of ways to earn extra money – my goal for things like my podcast is to be able to run it without spending any of my own money. So far, I haven’t been able to do that. At most, I’ve been able to pay for my Netflix subscription and 1 year of hosting for www.alternativeairwaves.com with proceeds from SwagBucks (I typically get ~$25 a month, but it’s slow, grinding work).
One thing I used to do – and I honestly can’t figure out where I found the work before – was freelance writing. The stuff I was doing, I really didn’t like that much. But it was relatively easy work, and got me I think $20 for 5 articles (which in retrospect, was not very good pay). I should probably dig up what I wrote to put a portfolio together, even though I have no idea where the things I wrote showed up online. This was probably 9-10 years ago, too.
But writing is just about the only marketable skill I can think of to sell online. I wish sometimes that I just had something I could do in 5-10 minutes and sell for $10 a pop. But I just don’t have the creative, physical skills. I’ve considered audio-related things, but sometimes that takes longer than what it’s worth. If I applied myself, I could probably put together a podcast editing portfolio. I just don’t usually have the time to provide the turnaround some podcast hosts require.
What kind of things have you done online to generate some extra cash? Or in the parlance of the Internet, “beer money”? Any suggestions for what I could do? Just looking to find work to generate $25-50 a month that isn’t so tedious as surveys and offers that pay cents at a time.
Let’s talk about ads! Not the science behind marketing, blah blah blah. Smarter people than me can take care of that conversation. Instead, I want to talk about ads in general, and things that are ad-supported.
The topic that brought this to mind was a recent post on /r/podcasts about sponsors. It was what you’d call on Reddit, a “shitpost” – a low-effort post with nothing to say. From that spawned an actual discussion at least, with opinions being split between supporting ads and being vehemently against them. Personally, I’m okay with them, and here’s why.
Full disclosure – I work in an industry that relies on advertising to generate revenue (radio). I am slightly biased, but not for the reason of perpetuating a source of revenue / income.
I am a podcast creator myself; I don’t use ads in my show, but rather rely on a Patreon campaign. However, I understand the need for ads to offset production costs. I have made a conscious choice to not skip ads for a product I am downloading for free. I do not make the financial decision to donate, so I don’t want to cheat the creators out of ads that they feel are necessary to support their craft.
I understand that listening to ads on a podcast is not an act in itself that will bring them money. This is more of a moral decision on my part. But in a similar vein, I also decided to disable adblockers in my browser so that websites I frequent benefit from my ad views. I understand that there’s whitelisting things you can do, so that terrible ad-based sites suffer, but I would rather just not go to those offending websites.
We live in a strange time, I think. Younger generations feel entitled to block out all advertising to get what they want. Some would gladly pay for subscriptions in exchange for an ad-free experience, but I think that might get close to the erosion of net neutrality. This is also probably a ‘slippery slope’ argument in the making, so I’m going to stop there.
I think that my final opinion on the matter is that I’m perfectly fine with ads, if they are supporting a medium that I’m not paying for. Radio, podcasts, and web sites – those are great examples. All of those have options for ad-free experiences as well in most cases.
For radio, there is Satellite Radio available (for which I have a subscription – I enjoy both Satellite AND terrestrial radio); for podcasts, there are a host of options; for websites, ad-free versions have been around for years. Apps have paid versions as well as ad-supported free versions.
Where it gets less tolerable are services such as Television, where I pay a subscription service and still get ads. However it is still tolerable, because I realize that the ads are supporting the channels, so it’s really the cable service that I’m paying through the nose for. TV is complicated, guys.
I read Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud over the weekend – yes, I typed that correctly; I started the book sometime Friday and finished it Sunday. If you want to skip my review entire, I’ll tell you straight up that I rated it 4/5 on Goodreads.
As I mentioned, I was able to finish it in a weekend. Surely I missed a lot of information, but at around 215+ pages, it’s not a very dense work of non-fiction – there aren’t a lot of words, and the bulk of it is juxtaposed next to images to help drive the point home. It makes for a very quick read, but the material is there to make it a very deep dive if you’re so inclined.
The format is presented in black and white, with one chapter briefly featuring bits of colour (for emphasizing the uses of colour in comics). Everything was otherwise clear in terms of conveying information, so definitely no marks lost for lack thereof. In fact, I think the one chapter about the use of colour helped to bring attention to the material at hand. Releasing it in colour may have diluted the information a bit, maybe.
The book is clearly well-researched. McCloud knows what he’s talking about, and goes back to information and comics centuries’ old. There are a few parts where it feels slightly repetitive, but never dry. I really enjoyed how it made me realize some of the unseen techniques going on with comics that I hadn’t really considered before.
At times I felt a little overwhelmed with some of the ideas presented, and I feel like McCloud went a little far-afield with some of his ideas. But overall it was presented in a friendly format and is a fun essay to read through. 4/5, definitely recommend.