Friday, March 30, 2018

STEM Starter Kit

I can remember it like it was yesterday. 

It was Christmas 1963.  I was 10 years old. 

Dallas, my second oldest half-brother and his wife Marge invited me over to their in-laws for Christmas.

To my surprise they had 10, count them 10, shopping bags full of presents for me!

There was an assortment of cloths and toys but…the best gift of all was a real, working microscope.  I was thrilled.

That afternoon I took it home and began examining all sorts of things through its triple-strength lens: grass, hair, and insects-it was great.

I still love microscopes but I got rid of my childhood gift long ago.

My First Lab has come to my rescue!

Its STEM Starter Kit for any Smartphone or tablet is amazing!

Simply clip on the Starter Kit to a Smartphone or tablet camera lens and the special adaptive electronic device instantly turns them into a 60X microscope!

You can even take pictures or videos!

Really, no kidding!  It’s amazing!

Here’s what you get: a microscope lens with clip, 15 specimens, a forensic light, a LED light and a slide carrying case.

You have to see it to believe it!  Isn’t technology grand?

Now you can take your microscope anywhere and viola!—you’re an instant biologist, forensic scientist or microscopic examiner. 

Back To The Future

My all-time favorite sci-fi/fantasy/comedy film is the original Back To The Future starring Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd.

I love the entire Back To The Future Trilogy of films, but the original is my favorite.

There’s something fascinating about the story of a teenage boy in 1985 traveling back it time to 1955, meeting his parents when they were in high school and attempting to ignite their romance so he and his siblings don’t cease to exist.

There’s lots of action, excitement, comedy and most of all edge-of-your-seat suspense.

Quirk Books and illustrator Kim Smith present a POP Classics version of the Back To the Future.

Readers both old and young will get a kick out the cartoon adaptation of the ultimate time travel movie.

The illustrations are spot-on and beautifully done.

The story is abbreviated but still retains the flavor of the original film. 

It makes for a heartfelt trip down Memory Lane albeit with a 21st century twist. 

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Walt Kelly And Pogo

Politics and social issues.  There was a time in the United States when political and social warrior opponents were actually civil to one another.

They agreed to disagree and when they did debate common courtesy usually prevailed. 

There were heated discussions but they were usually relegated to meetings and hearings.

Often opponents would socialize afterwards.  Their positions never changed but they realized that compromise was possible.

Not so nowadays.  Political parties and social cause proponents not only disagree, they are determined to eliminate any naysayers.

Back in the middle of the last century massive changes were occurring. 

With the proliferation of mass media-newspapers, radio and TV, voters had huge amounts of information at their fingertips-more so than ever before.

Political and social satire was commonplace.  Most of it was laced with innuendo.  Some was biting.  TV and radio had their share.

One of the biggest areas of satire came from comic strips and one of its biggest and most popular satirists was cartoonist Walt Kelly.

Kelly’s Pogo-a strip about swamp animals-poked fun at politics, politicians and American and world events.

Not bad for a comic character that started out in comic books and migrated to daily and Sunday comic strips read in hundreds of newspapers across the country,

Walt Kelly And Pogo: The Art Of The Political Swamp, written and compiled by James Eric Black and published by McFarland Publishing, delves into the life of the quiet and unassuming Walt Kelly.

Through his Pogo strip Kelly tackled McCarthyism, the Cold War and other political and social events taking place at that time.

The book, aided by Kelly’s Pogo strips, digs deep into Kelly’s life and satire via Pogo.

It makes for a fascinating read about how a simple, quiet man molded and shaped American’s opinions.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Damsels In Design

Regrettably and to the detriment of American manufacturing, women designers seldom received credit for their incredible work during the middle of the 20th Century.

The American automotive industry was a man’s game and women were seldom asked to participate.

And yet, if it were not for women designers of that era many of the innovative, practical and eye-pleasing designs of automobile interiors and exteriors would not have existed.

Unlike most men whose ideas of an automobile tended to be on the more practical and barebones side, women designers paid to attention to the aesthetics.

Color and fabric selection, eye and feel appeal of dashes, seats, interior details, exterior accessories such as chrome and body style and many more design considerations were pioneered by women designers.

With the ever increasing inclusion of women in the work force, a higher standard of living, free time and wages that afforded small luxuries women obtained a larger say in everyday purchases and drove manufacturers to cater to their wants and needs.

Men may have been the breadwinners but women ruled the roost and the household budget.

In author Constance A Smith’s new book: Damsels In Design, from Schiffer Books, readers are taken on a trip back in time to witness women pioneers in the automotive industry from 1939 to 1959.

Key women designers are given full credit for their creations and contributions accompanied by fascinating text, lots of vintage photographs, concept sketches and illustrations and close-ups of car interiors and exteriors designed by women.

It is an absolutely fascinating book of a bygone era where the seeds of change had been planted to eventually bloom to full blossom in the decades to follow.