Monday, March 31, 2014

SAFECon 2014 a Huge Success

I had a great time this past Saturday, March 20, 2014 at SAFECon in Prescott Valley, Arizona at the public library. For a smallish town, Prescott Valley turned out a nice crowd for this first annual event. It was a free event geared to teens, but people of all ages showed up. I particularly enjoyed seeing the creativity and hard work that the teens put into their cosplay. SAFECon provided me yet another opportunity to meet and talk story with wonderful tweens, teens and adults as well. I love my job!!

A special shout out to Jamie. She's a mom with a young, budding artist. Jamie's eyes got moist in the corners as she talked about her daughter's art - an obvious pride in her voice. What impressed me was Jamie's devotion to her daughter following her dream and doing what she loves. So often, parents and other adults try to steer their children away from careers in the arts. It's understandable. Living the life of an artist can be one filled with rejection, pain, and poverty! It is (often) not an easy life.

But Jamie is a mother who recognizes the joy that creating art brings to her daughter. And her daughter won second place in the art contest at SAFECon! Congrats!

I also got to chat with reporter and writer Patrick Whitehurst who was kind enough to mention me in his news story that appeared Sunday, 3/20 in the Daily Courier. Here's the whole story:

3/30/2014 6:03:00 AM
Sci-fi, Anime, Fantasy, Etc. convention for teens draws fans, authors, artists 
Patrick Whitehurst/The Daily Courier
Assassins Creed cosplayers Geoff Schoen and Joe Ashton show their skills during Saturday’s SAFECon at the Prescott Valley Public Library.
Patrick Whitehurst/The Daily Courier
Assassins Creed cosplayers Geoff Schoen and Joe Ashton show their skills during Saturday’s SAFECon at the Prescott Valley Public Library.
Matt Hinshaw/The Daily Courier
Joel Adams slinks by the audience dressed as Slenderman, a malevolent phantasm.
Matt Hinshaw/The Daily Courier
Joel Adams slinks by the audience dressed as Slenderman, a malevolent phantasm.

Patrick Whitehurst
The Daily Courier


PRESCOTT VALLEY, Arizona - Darth Vader walks into a room next to Princess Daisy from Mario Brothers.

That isn't the opening line of a joke, but a description of Saturday's Sci-Fi, Anime, Fantasy, Etc. Convention (SAFECon) at thePrescott Valley Public Library. Crowds dressed in a variety of costumes, and some participated in a "cosplay" costume competition. The event, geared toward teens in the quad-city area, featured workshops, panel discussions, a martial arts exhibition, art competitions and refreshments.

Artist and illustrator Samantha Violette attended to share her anime and comic art with those in attendance. She traveled to the con from her home in Tucson. She produces her art primarily in watercolor and pencils. Her art can also be seen online at www.samanthaashleyviolette.com.

As a fan of comics and anime, Violette attends conventions throughout the state.

"It's for work, but it's also a hobby of mine too," she said. "I think conventions are great. It's a chance for like-minded people to get together, to make new friends and find common interests."

While small compared to other conventions she's attended, Violette said she enjoyed meeting new people at SAFECon.

"I was very impressed by how well-organized it was," Violette said.

Other attendees for the event included comic book artist Dave Beaty, graphic designer Alec Kozak, and Natalie Wright, author of the popular Akasha Chronicles trilogy that began with the book "Emily's House." Wright chatted with a number of fans during Saturday's SAFECon and made a few new ones along the way.

"I like meeting people, so I enjoy talking to everyone. I especially enjoy meeting young people who use their creativity to express themselves," Wright said. "This convention is particularly cool because it's devoted to teens." Wright's novels focus on teens. A complete list of her books can be found at www.nataliewright.net.

Follow reporter Patrick Whitehurst on Twitter @pwdcourier

Friday, March 14, 2014

SciFi Friday: From Science Fiction to Science Fact - Prosthetics That Can Feel

Science fiction fans love robots, cyborgs, humans that are part machine and machines that act like humans. While Six Million Dollar Man prosthetics are still the stuff of fiction, scientists inch ever closer toward the dream of prosthetic devices that are adequate replacements for a lost body part.

Silvestro Micera, a neural engineer at the Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna in Italy and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne in Switzerland, led the team that developed a new prosthetic device that they call the "bionic hand." Dennis Aabo Sørensen is the man in the video that tested the hand for the team. This new technology relies on touch sensors that are connected to electrodes that have been surgically embedded in the nerves of the man's upper arm.


While this is a long way from being available to amputees, it's an amazing breakthrough for an amputee to be able to feel again with fingers that he no longer has.

What science fiction invention would you most like to see become science fact?

*Story via Livescience.com.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Sci Fi Friday: Curiosity on Mars Shows us Ourselves

Sometimes it helps to put things in perspective. Like when you start the day by having to squeeze the last bit of toothpaste from the tube, someone drank the last bit of coffee, you snag your panty hose on the way out the door (okay, guys can't relate to this - at least most can't), your car won't start and when you finally get to work, five new projects got slapped onto your desk and buried your "to do" pile for the day. When you've had that kind of a day, it can feel like the world is not your oyster but is in fact the sludgy grime that collects in your garbage disposal.

Which brings me back to perspective. This video puts it into perspective. For all of the drama of our daily lives, we are but specks in the cosmos. Even from Mars, our planet is nothing more than a shimmering dot.

I don't know if this bit of information will help the next time your life feels like sludge. But the video is cool just the same.

Mars Rover Curiosity
Images via Mars Science Laboratory